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Report calls for France to return art taken during colonialism to Africa

Title: Report calls for France to return art taken during colonialism to Africa
Authors: Hermann Boko, Claire Mufson
Media Outlet: France24
Publish Date: November 23, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday that France would return 26 works of art to Benin, hours after he was presented with a report calling for thousands of African artworks in French museums and taken during the colonial period to be returned.

The report, by French art historian Bénédicte Savoy and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr, recommends that French museums give back work if African countries request them.

The report estimates that up to 90 percent of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts. Some 70,000 of the estimated 90,000 works of sub-Saharan art in France’s public collections are held by just one museum, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, which opened in 2006 to showcase non-European art, much of it from former French colonies.

It will be up to Macron to determine the feasibility of the report’s recommendations. France has strict laws that consider African artifacts state property even if they were taken illicitly. Removing any works from the state collections will require an amendment to currentcultural heritage laws.

Museums throughout Europe are watching closelyfor what happens next.”