For U.S. Museums With Looted Art, the Indiana Jones Era Is Over
by Graham Bowley
Prodded by law enforcement, and pushed by foreign governments, American museums are increasingly returning artifacts to countries of origin, but critics wonder at what cost.
One organization, the Restitution Study Group, has sued to block the Smithsonian’s transfers. Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, executive director of the group, said her ancestors were traded as slaves from ports controlled by the Kingdom of Benin, where colonial-era rulers participated in the slave trade. She views the artifacts, some of which are said to have been created from the very metal that was exchanged for slaves, as part of her heritage and often took her daughter to see them at museums.
“If they go back, what then is left for us,” she said in an interview.
Smithsonian Annual Public Forum
Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 3-4pm
The Smithsonian Board of Regents will hold its annual public forum live in virtual webcast. Reporters and members of the public are invited to view the webcast and can ask questions during the event using a chat function.
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