The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) presents a sobering portrait of Italy's unwillingness or inability to live up to its end of the current MOU with the United States. Simply, Italy's grossly underfunded and over-bureaucratic cultural establishment is not up to the task.
Italians are a wonderful people, with an unparalleled culture, and with great and innovative artisans with the business acumen to make Italian products much desired world-wide. However, a distinct lack of effective and honest governance is a problem that negatively impacts all else, including the preservation of Italy's tremendous cultural heritage.
So, given the dismal performance of Italy's public sector, why not instead unleash some of that Italian entrepreneurial spirit and let Italy's antiquities and coin dealers sell not just to other Italians, but to the world? After all, each MOU has already called for Italy to ease the process for granting export permits for artifacts legally sold within Italy itself, something that has not happened (along with much else) courtesy of Italy's choking bureaucracy.
In particular, AAMD advocates opening up the Italian auction market so it can not only be a source of legitimately acquired artifacts, but help bring much needed money to help fund Italy's underfunded cultural establishment.
And what of coins? The AAMD rightly states they should be freed of foolish import restrictions:
Export restrictions on many ancient coins...are illogical because they are not specific to Italy in origin and there is a ready, legal market for them in Italy. Many dealers in Italy advertise ancient coins for sale.Either Italy must agree to issue export permits for coins sold legally in Italy or the designated list should be amended to allow such coins to be brought into the United States.
Yes, by all means, free the coins! Rome should rejoin the list of recognized world numismatic capitals like New York, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, and new hot spots like Budapest, Prague and Warsaw as a place where ancient coins are bought and sold at auction for an international audience of serious collectors.