The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago purchases on the market only infrequently and will only acquire items that can be shown to have left their country of origin before 1972, the year the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property entered into force, or to have been otherwise legally exported from their country of origin and legally imported into the United States. Legally-exported items include, but are not limited to, those that are part of a state-sponsored division (partage), scientific samples (faunal remains, carbon, plant, soil and wood, among others), and study collection materials, for which an export license has been granted by the country of origin or is not required under the laws of the country of origin.
In cases where the national ownership laws of an object’s country of origin can be shown to predate 1972, objects must have been exported before the date of that country’s law. The term “country of origin” here refers to the country within whose boundaries, as recognized by the United States Government, the object was discovered in modern times.
The provenance of acquired items shall be a matter of public record. Once an object has been vetted and approved by the Acquisitions Committee and it is accessioned into the collection, the Oriental Institute will publish an image and any associated provenance information related to acquisition in the Annual Report and on the Collections section of the Oriental Institute’s website.
For more information, please contact the OI Museum