American Bar Association
Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee

Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee

About the Committee

This committee is composed of attorneys and students with an interest in the legal aspects of art and cultural heritage. Committee members work in settings including private practice, museums, government and academia. Cultural heritage law is concerned with both movable and immovable property of artistic, cultural, religious and historic interest. Through its quarterly newsletter, Year in Review summary, CLE courses and panel discussions, the committee endeavors to represent a variety of perspectives and has recently addressed a variety of legal topics including underwater cultural heritage, art works stolen during the Holocaust, ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the impact of war on the cultural heritage in countries experiencing conflict, issues relating to repatriation of cultural heritage improperly removed from its country of origin, implications of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 in cultural property litigation and legal issues relating to artists' authentication boards. Within a diverse field with often sharply differing opinions, the committee welcomes all with an interest in this timely and fascinating subject.

Articles, Programs, Meetings and Events

Committee Events

EVENT: Sixth Annual National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition

February 27, 2015 - February 28, 2015
Registration is now open for the 2015 National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition. The competition will take place on February 27-28, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois.

The Competition, co-sponsored by the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, allows students to compete through oral and written advocacy in the nuanced landscape of cultural heritage law, which deals with the issues that arise as our society comes to appreciate the important symbolic, historical and emotional role that cultural heritage plays in our lives. This rapidly growing and dynamic area of law addresses historic preservation, the international trade in art works, antiquities and ethnographic objects, museums and other collectors, and indigenous cultures.

The 2015 Competition focuses on constitutional challenges to the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), 17 U.S.C. § 106A, which protects visual artists' moral rights of attribution and integrity. The problem addresses both a First Amendment and a Fifth Amendment challenge to VARA.
Attorneys interested in serving as a judge for the competition can register on the site linked above.

EVENT: The Legal Medium: New Encounters of Art and Law

February 28, 2015
Yale University will host a symposium titled "The Legal Medium: New Encounters of Art and Law" to examine law as an artistic medium, in and from which artists create. The program will focus on how artists encounter, take advantage of and seek to mold law.

EVENT: The Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation

March 27, 2015
Register now for LCCHP's Sixth Annual Conference, titled "Cultural Property: Current Problems Meet Established Law", to be held on March 27 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The full day conference will examine the following: (1) archaeological site looting; (2) adequacy of US law, policy and practice in preventing looting and international trade in looted objects; (3) museum response to legal environment and collecting ethics; (4) due diligence in acquisitions/incoming loans & returns; (5) legal framework for the emergency responses to heritage destruction in times of conflict; and (6) UN Resolution efforts to respond to looting and destruction in Syria.
Registration is now open.

EVENT: ABA International Section Spring Meeting; Committee Panel

April 27, 2015 - May 5, 2015
The Spring 2015 Meeting of the International Section of the ABA will be held in Washington, D.C., from 27 April through 5 May, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The A&CH Law Committee is hosting a panel discussion during the meeting titled "What is the Value of Historic Preservation: Assessing Preservation Tax Credits in the U.S. and Abroad."

ARTICLE: Collateral Damage: Ivory Ban’s Effects on Collectors, Museums, Musicians, and the Art Trade

November 19, 2014
GT Law Cultural Assets Blog, by Kevin Ray, Committee Co-Chair.

ARTICLE: Family Battles Over a Disappearing Trove of Chinese Paintings

October 15, 2014
NY Times Article, by Graham Bowley.
Section Events

    Cultural Property Issues in Collections Management and Estate Planning


    Description This presentation will provide a comprehensive overview of laws governing the movement and sale of cultural property to collectors in the United States. The speakers will address the procedures and practices the government follows in dealing with cultural property issues. When is a collection ...

    2015 Africa Forum

    Sarova Panafric Hotel

    Online registration is now closedEarn up to 15.0 CLE credits!East Africa is in the midst of an energy boom. Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan are all emerging as potential leaders in the energy and extractive sectors. This dynamic 1.5 day program in Nairobi, Kenya, hosted at the Sarova Panafric ...

    International enforcement of anti-corruption laws, compliance and recent evolutions in France


    How to get prepared for upcoming decisions. The World Bank and other multilateral development banks, in a continuing show of force, are chasing wrongdoers and cutting off funding of programs involving entities which don't walk the line. Two major French companies have faced hefty fines in the United ...

Helpful Internet Resources

The following is a list of internet resources concerning the protection of art and cultural heritage property.

Other organizations

This is a list of other organizations that address issues relevant to art law and cultural property protection

Young Lawyers/Law students

This page offers information about organizations for young lawyers/law students, in addition to opportunities for those members of the legal community.


Committee Roster  

Modified by Adam Vogel on April 21, 2015

Back to Top