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Russia orders immediate return of artworks from icon museum in Clinton

Posted by Thomasine Berg  March 17, 2011 12:35 PM

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10312010_31icons.4.jpgRussia's Ministry of Culture has ordered the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton to dismantle its exhibit of 37 icons and artifacts on loan from Russia and send them back.

Gordon Lankton, founder of the Clinton museum, said the museum received a call Monday saying that the works in the "Treasures From Moscow" show must be returned.

While no reason was given, it wasn't difficult to figure out. Russian museums have been canceling loans of artwork to the United States as a result of a feud that began last summer over a US court decision. Last July a federal judge ordered Russia to return items that an organization in Brooklyn, N.Y., claimed were being held illegally.

Since that decision, Lankton said, he has been wondering whether Russia would come asking for its icons. "Earlier this year we said, 'Wow, I wonder if they'll come after us.'"

A curator from Moscow's Andrey Rublev Museum, which lent the artworks, will be at the museum today to supervise their return.

Lankton said the Museum of Russian Icons will fill the 3,000-square-foot room that's been used to house the display since October with other icons from the collection. "It's a whole new room that we spent about a year preparing. It's a beautiful, beautiful room," he said, disappointed. The exhibition was supposed to run through July 25.

(Gordon Lankton with one of the icons. Photo by Dany Pelletier.)

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