Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee approved the strongly bipartisan H.R. 4292, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act, passed by a voice vote. By making a minor change to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, this legislation strengthens the ability of U.S. museums and schools to borrow foreign government-owned artwork and cultural artifacts.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), bill sponsor Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), and co-sponsors House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) praised today’s Committee vote and issued the following joint statement:
“The United States has long recognized the importance of a cultural exchange of ideas through artwork loaned from other countries. We are proud to support this strongly bipartisan legislation that increases Americans’ access to beautiful artwork and artifacts from around the world, fosters knowledge and appreciation of the arts and other cultures, and encourages learning, history and creativity.”
Background: Currently, court decisions interpreting the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act discourage foreign governments from lending government-owned artwork and objects of cultural significance to U.S. museums and schools for temporary exhibit or display. Foreign governments are discouraged by the possibility of litigation in U.S. courts from which they would otherwise be immune. As a result, the ability of U.S. museums and schools to borrow works of art and objects of cultural significance owned by foreign governments has been seriously curtailed in recent years.
H.R. 4292 would revive foreign borrowing and encourage foreign governments to loan portions of their collections to museums and galleries in the United States for public viewing. The ability of U.S. institutions consistently to produce first-class exhibitions depends in large part on assuring foreign governments that their loans will not subject them to litigation in U.S. courts.