horse with trailer in front of petra

The Wednesday Politics Thread Belongs in a Museum … Not!

US told to return stolen Roman sculpture in Minneapolis Institute of Art

A perfectly poised Roman statue of a male nude on display in a Minneapolis museum must be returned to Italy, from where it was stolen by tomb raiders, a magistrate near Naples has demanded.

Considered the finest surviving marble copy of the original Doryphoros, the Roman statue has pride of place at the Minneapolis Institute of Art after it was reportedly purchased in the 1980s for $2.5 million.

Italy has scored a series of victories in its attempt to take back precious artefacts looted from its archaeological sites and sold in the US. In December the US handed over 200 pieces valued at a total of $10 million, which were seized from collectors and museums. “Now it’s up to the diplomats,” one of the investigators said.

The Times [archive]

Benin Exhibits Stolen Treasures Returned by France

Benin President Patrice Talon on Saturday will inaugurate an exhibition of historic artworks returned by France last year, nearly 130 years after they were stolen by colonial forces.
The 26 pieces, some considered sacred in Benin, will be displayed from Sunday in a 2,000-square-metre (21,500-square-foot) space in the presidential palace in Cotonou in a show entitled “Benin art yesterday and today”.

The return of artefacts by France comes as calls grow in Africa for Western countries to hand back colonial spoils from their museums and private collections.

Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have all received requests from African countries to return lost treasures.

France24 [archive]

Inching Toward Restitution, Belgium Has Handed Over an Inventory of 84,000 Artifacts to the Democratic Republic of Congo

The restitution plans will play a key role in “reclaiming our national memory,” said Lukonde, the Congolese prime minister, in a statement. “The unresolved history of the colonial past constitutes a major challenge for the development of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of the African continent, long deprived of part of its heritage, representative of its intrinsic values.”

Belgium is among the latest to join the restitution trend in Europe, following countries such as France and Germany. But some have criticized the Belgian plans for not being transparent enough, as the catalogue of the inventory will be available to the governments and experts only, not civilians.

“Why is it given to a member of the government, and why is this USB key not on the museum’s website? Why doesn’t the average person have access to these inventories?” asked historian Yasmina Zian.

ArtNet [archive]

Chile Museum to Return Easter Island ‘Head’

Chile’s National Museum of Natural History said Monday it will return to Easter Island an enormous stone statue taken from the Rapa Nui people and brought to the mainland 150 years ago.

The one being returned, dubbed Moai Tau, is a 715-kilogram (1,500-pound) giant brought by the Chilean navy some 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) across the Pacific in 1870.

The Rapa Nui community has also asked the British Museum in London to return another Moai, dubbed Hoa Hakananai’a, that was taken in 1868 from Orongo, a ceremonial village on Easter Island.

Yahoo! News [archive]

Congolese Sculpture Held by Virginia Museum Is at the Center of a Dispute Involving NFTs

A 20th-century statue representing a Belgian officer killed during a Congolese revolt in 1931 is at the center of a rift between the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and an artist collective in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

White Cube, a gallery in Lusanga that is backed by a cooperative known as Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (CATPC), had reached out to the VMFA to temporarily bring the work back to the region in the DRC where the 1931 uprising took place and where the work was created. But the museum declined to loan the the statue of the slain colonial official after the group used unauthorized digital images of the work to reproduce as sellable NFTs. The VMFA claims this violated copyright laws.

The statue depicts Maximilien Balot and is currently on loan to the Reitberg Museum in Zurich, since 2016. Aiming to highlight links between Western museums, looted objects, and the places from which those pieces were taken, the group recently produced a documentary series called “Plantations and Museums,” which examines connections between plantation labor and the funding of Western institutions. The Balot statue figured in one episode.

ARTnews [archive]

Have a lovely Wednesday everyone. Respect the McSquirrel rule, your fellow politicados, and yourself!