Archives (English)

Pre-Columbian auction in Paris goes ahead in face of protest from Guatemala and Mexico

Title: Pre-Columbian auction in Paris goes ahead in face of protest from Guatemala and Mexico
Author: Vincent Noce
Media Outlet: The Art Newspaper
Publish Date: Sept. 19, 2019

“Central American countries are up in arms once more over the sale of pre-hispanic objects in Paris, which they say is “encouraging looting and trafficking of their cultural heritage". Their anger was triggered by an auction of pre-Columbian artefacts owned by the French collectors Manichak and Jean Aurance held at Alexandre Millon at Drouot yesterday, 18 September.”

How long will Europeans and other Westerners keep insulting Africans in Restitution Matters?

Title: How long will Europeans and other Westerners keep insulting Africans in Restitution Matters?
Author: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Media Outlet: Modern Ghana
Publish Date: Sept. 16, 2019

“We reproduce below a press release from a Berlin based NGO alliance on the proposals of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation to loan to Namibia artefacts looted by German colonialists.

(…) We call on African peoples and States to whom such demeaning proposals of loans of their own looted artefacts have been made, to reject them as a matter of dignity and principle. Other offers accompanying such proposals cannot make up for the loss of self-respect and dignity resulting from such shameful projects.

In this post-Ouagadougou period, after the Sarr-Savoy report, such proposals are anachronistic.

End of Golden Age: Dutch museum bans term from exhibits

Title: End of Golden Age: Dutch museum bans term from exhibits
Author: Daniel Boffey
Media Outlet: The Guardian
Publish Date: Sept. 13, 2019

“One of the Netherlands’ most prestigious museums has fuelled fresh debate over the the country’s colonial past by deciding it will no longer use the term Golden Age to describe the 17th century when it was at its pinnacle as a military and trading power.

(…) Tom van der Molen, the curator of the 17th century at the museum, said: “The Golden Age occupies an important place in Western historiography that is strongly linked to national pride. But positive associations with the term such as prosperity, peace, opulence and innocence do not cover the charge of historical reality in this period. The term ignores the many negative sides of the 17th century such as poverty, war, forced labour and human trafficking.”

Icom Kyoto 2019 conference: key takeaways from the decolonisation and restitution panel

Title: Icom Kyoto 2019 conference: key takeaways from the decolonisation and restitution panel
Author: Tonya Nelson
Media Outlet: The Art Newspaper
Publish Date: Sept. 9, 2019

“The session was both thought-provoking and challenging. It raised a number of questions that speak to the fundamental purpose of museums in the 21st century: are museums shop windows that present highly polished, one-dimensional histories or platforms where the messy work of continually reshaping stories to reflect new knowledge and histories can be used to empower people and create new futures?”

Kenya’s Pokomo people ask the British to return what was stolen: Their source of power

Title: Kenya’s Pokomo people ask the British to return what was stolen: Their source of power
Author: Max Bearak
Media Outlet: The Washington Post
Publish Date: August 9, 2019

“That drum, the ngadji, the source of power and pride for the Pokomo, has been relegated to a storage room in the British Museum in London for 111 years.

The theft of the ngadji by British colonial officers is a story well-known among the eldest Pokomo. The British Museum, too, acknowledges the ngadji was “confiscated” before being donated to its collections in 1908. The museum also acknowledges a request by the Pokomo community for its return.

(…) “We cannot return to the old days. The world has changed, not just the Pokomo,” Mjidho said. “Yes, the ngadji’s return would restore our pride. It might inspire our youth to look beyond the hopeless world that has been created around them.”

Greece in talks with Louvre to borrow Parthenon frieze as part of 'temporary exchange'

Title: Greece in talks with Louvre to borrow Parthenon frieze as part of 'temporary exchange'
Author: Gareth Harris
Media Outlet: The Art Newspaper
Publish Date: August 27, 2019

“President Emmanuel Macron of France is considering lending to Greece a marble frieze removed from the temple of Parthenon, which is currently housed at the Louvre in Paris. According to the Greek news agency ANA, the plan was discussed during recent talks between Macron and the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who hopes to secure the loan for the country’s bicentennial independence celebrations in 2021.”

Revised Guidelines On Colonial Collections: Germany Not Advanced With Restitution Of Looted African Artefacts

Title: Revised Guidelines On Colonial Collections: Germany Not Advanced With Restitution Of Looted African Artefacts
Author: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Media Outlet: Modern Ghana
Publish Date: July 28, 2019

“(…) Instead of being an instrument for aiding restitution, provenance research has become independent of restitution and risks dominating restitution which it may well postpone. The Guidelines declare that restitution should not be an end in itself, but they make provenance research an end in itself.

These Guidelines which have undergone a second revision after a year of publication may again undergo another revision. Meanwhile Africans will be waiting for concrete restitutions whilst the scholars keep us busy with their provenance research and revisions of Guidelines. One wonders what German institutions were doing in the last hundred years.”

British Museum Workers Issue Statement in Support of Trustee Who Resigned

Title: British Museum Workers Issue Statement in Support of Trustee Who Resigned
Author: Hakim Bishara
Media Outlet: Hyperallergic
Publish Date: July 22, 2019

“Ahdaf’s actions highlight, once again, the troubling nature of the relationship between BP and the arts,” the PCS union statement said. “Through its sponsorship of our most prestigious cultural institutions, BP is allowed to propagate the myth that, without its existence, we would not have access to the collections of our publicly funded museums and galleries,” the workers added, reiterating their position that “access to culture is a human right, not a privilege bestowed by large corporations.”

On Resigning from the British Museum’s Board of Trustees

Title: On Resigning from the British Museum’s Board of Trustees
Author: Ahdaf Soueif
Media Outlet: London Review of Books
Publish Date: July 15, 2019

The British Museum, born and bred in empire and colonial practice, is coming under scrutiny. And yet it hardly speaks. (…) Any story the museum chooses to tell must finally be judged in context: that is, in relation to how it behaves – where it gets its money, how it treats its workers, and who it considers partners.