Returning relics

I picked up on the interesting story in the papers on the 9th of May in regards to the Museum of Rouen in France handing a perfectly mummified Maori head held in their collections since 1875 back to New Zealand. Sweden, Norway and Germany were also amongst the countries that have returned Maori remains to the delegation before they headed back to New Zealand. How this particular Maori head came to be in the French museum is uncertain and New Zealand has been requesting the return of all of her relics across Europe since the 1980sand since then, around 320 objects have been sent back.

This story was widely picked up by press all over the world and though not paper-related, these types of museology issues really interest me personally. Returning relics to their country of origin is a complex challenge that has many political, philosophical, cultural and at times spiritual and/or religious issues attached. Different countries have different laws on cultural artefacts but should it be the right of the originating country to request objects back?

You can read more about the story on several sites on the web but for the basics on the story, you can visit the BBC website.

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