Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, objects from the traveling exhibition 'De Krim – Gold and secrets of the black sea' have been lying without ownership in the cellars of the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. Barely a month after the opening, the exhibition was closed and the objects were rendered stateless.
The museum immediately received claims from both sides: both the Crimean Museum, which now operates in the Russian state, and the Ukrainian state claimed the treasures. The archaeological finds from Crimea became part of a political tug-of-war in which the Netherlands was given the role of involuntary arbitrator, and where the emotional value of the treasures in this long-running conflict perhaps weighs the most.
This is especially evident in the relationship of the two women who occupy central positions in the film's plot. The head of the Ukrainian National Museum feels betrayed that her Crimean colleagues accepted the Russian occupation without resistance, and the head of the Crimean Museum feels personally connected to the objects, some of which she dug out of the ground herself and others borrowed from colleagues, leaving her with a terrible sense of guilt now that the objects are at an impasse.
After the film, we will discuss laws in the field of archeology and cultural heritage. Who owns the artifacts from the past? We try to give different perspectives and dive into other modern examples, such as the status of art acquired in colonial times.