Denver—March 10, 2023—The Denver Art Museum (DAM) today announces that it has removed the Bunker family name from its Arts of Asia gallery. The museum has also returned financial gifts it received in support of the DAM’s capital campaign to the Bunker family.
This action, approved by the museum’s Board of Trustees, follows evidence that former museum trustee and volunteer, Emma Bunker, participated with indicted art dealer Douglas Latchford to mislead the museum into acquiring looted and illegally trafficked works of art. Latchford was indicted by U.S. officials in 2019 for selling and trafficking looted artworks from countries including Cambodia and Thailand. In 2019, the museum proactively contacted Cambodian officials about works in its collection associated with Latchford, ultimately returning those artworks to their countries of origin.
Ms. Bunker and her family donated more than 200 art objects in areas across the museum including textiles and modern and contemporary art over the last 60 years. Approximately 40 of these gifts are considered antiquities, and the museum, cooperating with U.S. authorities, continues to conduct research into the ownership histories of these objects.
The museum has a longstanding track record of cooperation and collaboration with U.S. and foreign officials to ensure proper ownership of antiquities. Careful analysis and research into the provenance of various objects in its collections remains ongoing, with those connected to Ms. Bunker as a top priority.
Ethical collection practices are a core value of the Denver Art Museum, evidenced by its ongoing commitment to provenance research and the repatriation of pieces where appropriate. In addition to collaborating with government authorities, the museum also works directly with peer museums and countries of origin to pursue facts and ensure proper ownership. Over the last several years, the DAM has invested additional staff and resources to increase capacity for researching the ownership histories of objects in its collections, focused on both accuracy and cultural sensitivity. Information on provenance at the DAM, as well as policies on acquisitions and loans, can be found online at denverartmuseum.org/provenance.
About the Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro area residents support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org.