Now, as reported by archaeological blogger, David Gill, AIA Vice-President Sebastian Heath has taken issue with this view. See http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2009/12/cpac-review-of-mou-with-italy-aia.html
Specifically, Dr. Heath, states,
Another voice heard at the CPAC meeting was that of ancient coin collectors and dealers. Like many AIA members, one of the areas in which I’ve published scholarly articles is ancient numismatics so the protection of coins is of great interest to me. Archaeologists are members of the numismatic community, and it is important that our voice is heard. Speaking for coin dealers, Peter Tompa, who represented both the International Association of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists Guild and who has also released a summary of his written submission, suggested that Italian museums are not good stewards of their numismatic collections and that Italian archaeologists do a poor job publishing excavated coins. My experience suggests that neither is the case. The Palazzo Massimo in Rome has a superb numismatic display that features excavated material, including hoard finds, to trace the rise and use of coinage from the Republican period onwards. The website www.fastionline.org reports the discovery of coins and often places them in context by discussing the sites on which they were found. Unfortunately, the current MoU does not include coins as a protected category. If Italy does request that coins be included in a future agreement, it is likely that the AIA would support such a move.
Dr. Heath's view, in turn, has prompted some comment. In particular, a collector [who would prefer to remain anonymous], had this to say in response about Italy's premier coin display:
I disagree with the word "superb". Italians are awful stewards.... I too have seen the collection of coins in the Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme. It is dusty, fingerstained, with magnifying glasses on most Roman coins that are alinged poorly, and with at least one Domitian aureus that had fallen to the bottom of the display. It is an afterthought, at best. I asked a curator (at least someone in a suit with a badge) about the collection, and he, in perfect English told me that he didn't know anything about coins. When I asked who the numismatist was at the Massimo, he didn't have a clue. One of the Nero pieces was clearly Lugdunum (with the globe at the neck of the bust), and was listed as being "from Rome"...of course, possible, but not minted there. [My Wife] and I chatted with a curator about the excellent mosaics. She was very pleasant and knowledgeable. Two days later we chanced to meet her and her boyfriend at the Nero Domus Aureus; I told her I was surprised that the coins at the Massimo were not well presented...her response: "what coins?"
I also have viewed the display myself some years back. I thought it was excellent in concept (particularly in contrast to the few, scattered displays of worn and corroded coins one often sees in regional museums). At the same time, however, I was very disappointed to also observe the effects of neglect-- particularly the broken lighting and magnifying devices. I would also note the "Fasti online" Dr. Heath describes does include coins, but fails to describe them in much detail.
Overall, while I appreciate Dr. Heath's points, I simply don't think they take into account the "situation on the ground" in Italy as a whole. The Palazzo Massimo is Italy's premier coin display. Yet, even it shows the signs of neglect. "Fastionline" may mention coins, but it is no substitute for thorough publication.
Few coins are displayed at Italian museums. Many museum collections are not published at all or are published only in part. The same deplorable situation exists at archaeological sites. Italian sites have been under professional excavation for a century, but publications of site finds are few and for many sites, years of excavation work has failed to produce any publications at all.
One also wonders about the storage conditions for coins. Mario Resca, Italy's new "Museum Czar," has spoken forthrightly about the serious underfunding facing the Italian cultural institutions. Italy is a very wealthy "G8" country. Yet, it does not even fund its major cultural sites adequately. What then of its funding for the coins in State Collections?