Home Artifacts V&A Museum in talks for possible return of artifacts to Ghana – ARTnews.com

V&A Museum in talks for possible return of artifacts to Ghana – ARTnews.com


The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is in talks to possibly return a collection of Asante gold artefacts that were looted during a British military raid on the Ghanaian town of Kumasi in 1874.

News of the potential repatriation follows a visit by British museum director Tristram Hunt to Ghana earlier this year. Hunt met with officials from Ghana’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, as well as the current Asante King, Osei Tutu II. The objects were seized from the royal court of Kumsai before entering the museum’s collection at the end of the 19th century.

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“We are optimistic that a new partnership model can pave a potential way for these significant artifacts to be displayed in Ghana in the years to come,” Hunt wrote in a director’s foreword published in the annual review. 2021-2022 of the museum.

According to a report by The art journal, the discussions were moderated in part by Ghanaian art historian Ivor Agyeman-Duah. The museum declined to give further details. Another return announcement could come later this year, the UK-based outlet reported.

The V&A, along with other UK national museums, cannot currently dispose of fine art from its permanent collections due to a 1983 law to prevent the export of historical artefacts from UK national institutions. The law does not provide for an exception for cultural repatriation.

Under the current set of legal standards, the V&A can only exchange Asante artefacts under a long-term loan agreement with the Ghanaian government. But these loans could result in the transfer of legal title from one country to another.

The V&A is one of a handful of institutions holding items believed to have been looted in the 19th century. An ornate gold crown taken in Ethiopia around 1868 has been the subject of restitution calls since 2007.

Hunt launched a potential long-term loan of the disputed Maqdala-era artefact to the East African country in 2018. The British Museum holds a large collection of Asante artefacts of which around 100 were seized during the military conflict of 1874.

Hunt, who was previously a member of the British Parliament and director of the museum since 2017, has been openly debating legal policies regarding the return of art in the UK. In July during an interview with BBChe called the current legal standard “unsatisfactory”.