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The Elephant in the Room: Ivory and the Art World


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Dr Niamh Bhalla, Getty Connecting Art Histories Project Manager,
Alistair Brown, Policy Officer, Museums Association, Martin Levy, Director, H. Blairman & Sons Ltd and Will Travers OBE, CEO, Born Free Foundation for 'The Elephant in the Room: Ivory and the Art World' organised by Martin Caiger-Smith and MA Curating students, The Courtauld Institute of Art.

On 6 October 2017, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced plans to implement a total ban on the UK’s trade of ivory. The ban would have wide-reaching implications across the art world. Its inevitable impact on the movement, display and perception of ivory has polarized opinion amongst art professionals and activists.

Can museums and dealers still champion ivory objects despite the controversy they provoke? By displaying older pieces of ivory, do we perpetuate a market for contemporary ones? Can we still appreciate the cultural and aesthetic value of ivory while knowing the reality of its origins?

This debate will bring together activists, dealers and museum professionals to discuss these issues, so we can finally address the elephant in the room.