"In order to present first-class exhibitions on a consistent basis, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Art Museum and other similar museums across this country depend on foreign loans," Chabot said in February. "By enacting this legislation, we can remove a major obstacle to foreign loans and exchanges."
Currently, the Immunity from Seizure Act (IFSA) gives the executive branch the authority to grant artwork immunity from seizure by U.S. courts, which is meant to help encourage the exchange of culturally significant objects between nations.
But Chabot says this law has been complicated by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which in some cases can give courts jurisdiction over foreign governments when their artwork is displayed in the United States. Chabot notes that the American Association of Museum Directors has said this has prompted some foreign governments to decide against loaning their artwork to U.S. museums.
To fix the problem, Chabot's bill would add language to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act clarifying that artwork loaned to the United States for display will not open them up to claims under that law.
Chabot's bill does clarify, however, that artwork will not be protected from claims that the piece in question was taken by Nazi Germany between Jan. 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945.