Archive for July 18th, 2008

50,000 exhibits “missing” from Russian museums

Friday, July 18th, 2008

A government audit of 1600 museums has found jaw-droppingly massive inventory shrinkage.

The lost items were worth a total of “several million dollars,” he said, adding most of the disappeared inventory was pre-Revolutionary and Soviet-era medals, weapons and clothes.

Precious works of art were among the missing items but separate investigations were being conducted for those, [Interior Ministry Col. Ilya] Ryasnoi said.

“Yes, there have been thefts. Museum staff have used their contacts to steal some of the artifacts without a trace,” he said. “But most has simply been lost during transportation.”

Wow. I thought “they fell off the back of a truck” is what the thieves are supposed to say, not the victims.

A hundred museum employees have been charged with various minor infractions, but it looks officials are writing the bulk of this one off as “the Soviets lost them”. They don’t have a lot of choice, really, given the deplorable record-keeping at most of these museums.

Hopefully this inquiry will inspire Russian museums to take inventory for real now.