Mexico’s unique campaign – including a push on social media – to entice owners of stolen artifacts to voluntarily return them is paying off.
State of play: Since the launch of the #MiPatrimonioNoSeVende (my heritage is not for sale) campaign in 2018, the Mexican government claims to have recovered 8,970 objects.
- This includes 2,522 pottery and other artifacts that a Barcelona family handed over to Mexico’s culture minister last month in the largest artifact repatriation in Mexican history. Some of the pieces went on display at a museum in Mexico City last Tuesday.
- Separately, New Mexico’s Albuquerque Museum Foundation returned 12 sculptures of Olmec and other indigenous origins to Mexican authorities last week, though that happened when museum staff found the artifacts. in old boxes and investigated their origins.
Details: As part of the campaign, the Foreign Secretary and the Ministry of Culture are reaching out to institutes and collectors around the world to ask for voluntary returns.
- They also attempted to stop auctions of Mesoamerican artifacts, arguing that they had been illegally obtained or stolen. The results have been mixed – some auctions in New York took place last year, while others in Europe were cancelled.
The big picture: Campaigns for art restitution are sprouting around the world amid a reckoning over cultural heritage and who owns it.
And after: Mexican authorities plan to discuss the return of cultural artifacts at a major UNESCO meeting next month in Mexico City, according to Culture Secretary Alejandra Frausto.
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