The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
(MIA) has agreed to transfer a 5th century B.C. Greek volute krater acquired by the MIA in 1983 to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for delivery to Italy.
The MIA became concerned with the provenance of the object and contacted the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities of the Italian Republic (Ministry). Both the Ministry and ICE HSI provided information about the krater to the Museum. Working collaboratively with the Ministry and ICE HSI and after evaluating the information provided by the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale, as well as its own research, the Museum determined that the krater should be transferred to Italy.
After analysis by an archaeology professor at La Sapienza University in Rome, it was determined that the krater in possession of the MIA is, in fact, the same krater depicted in photographs seized in the course of an investigation conducted by the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale in 1995. The krater likely originated from the archaeological area of Rutigliano, in the Province of Bari, located in the Italian region of Puglia in Southern Italy according to the professor.
The Italian Minister of Culture, Giancarlo Galan expressed his satisfaction about the successful outcome. "This success was possible because Italy has chosen the diplomatic route in order to obtain the return of certain objects which might have provenance questions. I take this occasion to thank the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for its cooperation and look forward to future collaboration with them in many areas of mutual benefit." "The decision to transfer the Volute Krater demonstrates the MIA's commitment to the highest ethical standards in developing and maintaining our collection," said Kaywin Feldman, director and president of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Like so many mysteries, this one began with a fragmentary series of clues, calling into question the provenance of work. We are grateful to our colleagues at the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities and officials at Homeland Security Investigations for working collaboratively with us to provide information and resolve any ambiguity about this object."
A krater is a vessel used for mixing wine and water in ancient Greece. "Volute" refers to the vase's ornate, scrolling handles. The vase is decorated in the "red-figure style" showing a lively procession with the wine god, Dionysus, and an entourage of satyrs and maenads, or female devotees. The krater is believed to have been decorated by an artist known today as the Methyse Painter (the actual names of early artists were rarely recorded), from whom about twenty works have been identified.
A delivery date to the Italian government is being finalized.