China

Museums in the changing world order: Restitution to Africa reaches tipping point

Title: Museums in the changing world order: Restitution to Africa reaches tipping point
Author: Adrian Ellis
Media Outlet: The Art Newspaper
Publish Date: April 5, 2019

“The British Museum appears to be maintaining the position of the Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums, signed by 18 peer institutions (but not the British Museum) in 2002: respect the law as it stands, not as it could stand; avoid the slippery slope to depletion to which any concession potentially leads; acknowledge the wide range of circumstances in which objects were acquired rather than generalising from the most egregious cases; remember the first duty of stewardship and ensure at all costs that objects are safe from conservational lapses or theft; keep objects where they can be seen in the broadest global and historical context; do not forget that the geopolitical entities requesting their “return” are rarely the entities from which they were taken; and look for imaginative alternatives to permanent restitution, such as curatorial exchanges and long-term loans. And generally, one might reasonably add, say as little as possible about these issues in public.”

Senegal’s Museum of Black Civilizations Welcomes Some Treasures Home

Title: Senegal’s Museum of Black Civilizations Welcomes Some Treasures Home
Authors: Dionne Searcey and Farah Nayeri
Media Outlet: The New York Times
Publish Date: January 15, 2019

“(…) Felwine Sarr, the co-author of the French restitution report (who is Senegalese), said the government of Senegal would soon formally ask for the restitution of the sword, which had been previously lent to Senegal in 2006 and 2008, as well as other items from the Musée de l'armée, Quai Branly, and Le Havre. Mr. Sarr estimated that the number of artifacts Senegal would demand might total “a few dozen objects.” He said Senegal was not about to demand the return of all works of Senegalese origin at Quai Branly, which that museum has estimated at 2,249.

(…) On a recent morning, Yaya Ngom, a 53-year-old artist from Dakar who specializes in interior design, was perusing the new exhibits. He said most Africans know about their history and heritage only through books and documentaries — and most of those are rarely produced by Africans. The museum, he said, “is a significant turning point for us as a continent to be able to know about ourselves through our very own teachings and rewrite our own history through these objects.”