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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Australian Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (PMCH Act) and Regulations 1987 (Regulations) were modelled on the Canadian approach to dealing with export and illegal transfer of cultural objects. Of the two countries, Canada was the first to accept the underpinning UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property 1970 in 1978. Australia accepted the Convention once its domestic legislation was in place in 1989. 

In November Veronica visited the Movable Cultural Property Program of Canadian Heritage to characterise the Australian legislation and to discuss the similarities and differences between the two national approaches. 

Apart from the Australian PMCH Act and Regulations, key references were the 2009 Report of the Review of the PMCH legislation, and the 2004 PhD thesis by Marett Leiboff examining the case history under the legislation titled Reconstructing the Role of Cultural Significance in the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act (1986) Cth

Some interesting differences between the two systems are that Australia chooses to prohibit export in certain cases, while Canada does not. Also, Australia uses more than one 'Expert Examiner' wherever possible to assess export cases, while Canada uses one Expert Examiner opinion only. 

The day at Canadian Heritage was well attended by colleagues from associated departments and included a presentation by Veronica on the broader picture for movable cultural heritage in Australia as well as an explanation / mini-workshop on the Australian approach to significance assessment for movable cultural heritage. It was a very good exchange.

Also in Ottawa Veronica facilitated a longer workshop for most staff at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), which uses the Australian significance assessment methodology to help select the external materials conservation work it undertakes: see CCI Assessment of Service Requests. The workshop followed a similar presentation to that delivered to Canadian Heritage on the big picture for movable cultural heritage in Australia as at November 2011.

It was very rewarding connecting with engaged and perceptive Canadian colleagues who also work in the cultural significance space. 


Posted on Friday, December 2, 2011 (Archive on Sunday, July 7, 2013)
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