Trust and Transparency in the Art and Heritage World and its Practices, MACCH Annual Conference, Maastricht, 15-17 March 2020

Events and Conferences
International Conferences

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO “Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property”, as well as the 25th anniversary of the 1995 UNIDROIT “Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects”. In celebration of these anniversaries, the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH) hosts its annual, transdisciplinary conference in collaboration with the Netherlands UNESCO Commission – parallel to and in direct vicinity to The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF).

Arts and heritage practices thrive on trust. Yet, trust in the arts and heritage world appears to be waning due to a lack of transparency. Recent accusations concern the illicit excavation and trafficking of antiquities, as well as assumed linkages between the art market and money laundering, or even the financing of terrorist activities. Scandals have also involved the sale of various fakes and forgeries in much respected galleries, supported by authenticity declarations of notable experts.

These scandals and accusations have already triggered new legislative action enforced on national, and international levels. Some market actors consider these measures burdensome and overly bureaucratic, while officials claim that even more regulation and restriction is necessary. Although the majority of transactions are considered to be legitimate, governments and law enforcement agencies around the world assert that the looting, trafficking and illicit sale in cultural goods remains substantial.

In addition to challenges due to illicit activities, museums and private collectors face restitution and return claims concerning objects that have been looted, confiscated or sold under duress in the past, specifically during the Holocaust and Colonialism. While discussion and debate of rightful ownership, as well as legal and ethical claims regarding these objects, are often perceived to create insecurity for museums, art dealers, and private collectors, they also challenge public bodies such as restitution commissions and courts to create trust and offer transparency in their quest for just and fair solutions.

These challenges raise important questions concerning trust and transparency in arts and heritage practices today. How can trust in arts and heritage practices be (re-)established? What are forms of opacity in arts and heritage practices, and what are possible benefits of increased transparency for the art and heritage world?

Our conference tackles these and other questions based on accumulated knowledge and expertise built during past MACCH events, including our previous annual conferences in 2014 “Whose Culture is it? On cultures of authenticity and ownership in art and cultural heritage”, 2015 “Assembling value: The changing roles of expertise in art and heritage worlds”, 2016 “Fair and Just Practices: Art and heritage worlds from the perspectives of markets and law”, 2018 “Crossing Borders in Arts and Heritage” and 2019 “Art and Law: Current developments in turbulent times”.

We invite you to join our tradition of bridging disciplinary boundaries to find solutions to current problems in the fields of art, heritage and the market.


  SUNDAY 15 March
16.30 Registration
17.00 Welcome & Opening
17.15 Kathleen Ferrier (UNESCO Commission) - 50 Years of UNESCO 1970
17.45 Lectures and Questions & discussion
20.00 Dinner (speakers only)
09.00 Panel 1: Illicit v licit trade - different perspectives
10.40 Coffee break
11.00 Panel 2: Illicit trade: a case study - the Persian Guard, three facets to a repatriation
12.15 Lunch
13.30 Panel 3: Digital provenance and art markets
15.20 Coffee break
15.40 Panel 4: Restitution and return of holocaust looted art
19.00 Dinner
09.00 Panel 5: Restitution and return - the debate concerning objects taken during colonialism
10.55 Coffee break
11.15 Panel 6: Financial perspectives and the anti-money laundering directive
12.45 Closing of the conference


NH hotel
Forum 110
6229GV Maastricht

Train station: Maastricht Randwijck, then walk six minutes to the hotel


  • Regular participant: € 75 pp (1, 2 or 3 day attendance)
  • Maastricht University employee: € 60 pp (1, 2 or 3 day attendance)
  • Alumni: € 50 pp (1, 2 or 3 day attendance)
  • Student: €50 pp (1, 2 or 3 day attendance)
  • Dinner (on Monday evening): € 50 pp
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