The President’s 2013 Executive Order and the subsequent National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking rightly called attention to the many threats to wildlife around the world.
The AAMD supports the efforts of the international community to address these threats in a responsible and measured approach. Poaching, trafficking and other illegal forms of wildlife destruction need to be addressed and the President’s call to action, in particular with respect to the threats facing African elephants, is to be commended. Art museums have a place in these efforts, particularly through their role as educators and communicators. At the same time, museums have a responsibility to protect, conserve and display works of art that represent the creativity of the human spirit that expresses itself in many mediums and in the past, quite legitimately, has done so through works that include elements of species that are now endangered or threatened.
The AAMD has long supported these international efforts, particularly through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (“CITES”). American museums have significant experience in complying with CITES and, every day, works of art move in and out of the United States as part of exhibitions and loans that benefit the viewing public and in strict compliance with CITES and national laws designed to protect endangered and threatened species, such as the Endangered Species Act.
The AAMD looks forward to working with the Presidential Task Force, Advisory Council and the concerned elements of federal and state governments to shape a national approach to support the efforts to curtail the trade in illegally acquired wildlife, while sharing the historic works of art created in times when the threats to wildlife were very different.