Statement on Acquisition Guidelines

The Michael C. Carlos Museum's mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art and artifacts from antiquity to the present in order to provide unique opportunities for education and enrichment in the community and to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research at Emory University.

The permanent collection of a museum is the core of its identity; it provides the foundation for its research, exhibitions, and educational outreach. The Carlos Museum fulfills its mission by making acquisitions of art and artifacts for its permanent collection through gifts, bequests, and purchases.

Many factors contribute to the museum’s decision to acquire a work, including artistic quality, intellectual appeal, historical importance, attributes which foster understanding of a particular culture or artistic movement, and a credible provenance, or history of ownership.

The Carlos Museum is committed to the highest standards of ethical and professional practice. Carlos Museum curators and scholars carefully research each proposed acquisition to determine its historical context and provenance. The museum responsibly collects works of art and strives to discourage the illicit trade in them.

The Carlos Museum will not knowingly acquire any work in violation of the laws of the United States, any work that has been illegally exported from its country of origin, nor any work that has been obtained by seizure during times of war, rebellion, or unrest. The museum further requires that sellers warrant that works have been legally exported from their country of origin and legally imported into the United States.

The Carlos Museum follows the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) Guidelines on the Acquisition of Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art, which is inspired by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on Cultural Property. UNESCO mandates that works must have been exported from their countries of origin prior to November 17, 1970, or be accompanied by a valid export license from their countries of origin.

However, the guidelines also recognize that a complete provenance may not be obtainable for all archaeological material and every work of art. Therefore, the AAMD affirms that its member museums should have the right to exercise their institutional responsibility to make informed and defensible judgments to acquire works of art if, in their opinion, doing so would satisfy the requirements set forth in the AAMD guidelines and meet the highest standards of due diligence.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum holds its collections in the public trust for the benefit of all humanity. The museum responds promptly to all cultural property and repatriation claims received from the United States government, federally recognized Native American Tribes and Nations, and national governments of foreign countries. In the event that the museum’s title to any work in its collection is found defective, the museum will promptly act to return the work to its rightful owner.