Italy: Progress Seen in Talks on Antiquities

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After years of tough talk and high-profile court cases to force the return of archaeological artifacts, Italian cultural officials and American museum directors this week seemed intent on charting a new course.

It was not simply that Italian officials expressed relief to be recouping rare treasures after signing accords over the last two years with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. As the two sides reminded each other in frank exchanges on Wednesday, they need each other — for art loans, joint scholarship and possible collaboration on archaeological digs. And their mutual mistrust has faded considerably.

At least that was the sense that emerged from the meetings, which were attended by several American museum directors; current and former leaders of the Association of Art Museum Directors in North America and Italian cultural officials.

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