In Nigeria at the end of the 19th century, thousands of objects were looted during punitive expeditions and brought to Europe. More recently, "provenance research" has begun to systematically investigate the origin of looted objects. Eight museums have joined forces in the "Benin Initiative Switzerland" (BIS). In the Museum der Kulturen in Basel, 20 exhibits have already been checked for their origin and inventoried. Shocking for the Museum of Antiquities was when Italian cultural property police withheld the bronze statue "Hercules" on loan to the Museo Reggia di Venaria in Turin and blocked another 10 objects in Basel.
What do museums have to expect in the future if acquisitions made in good faith meet a similar fate? What happens to restituted works that require new exhibition spaces in their country of origin? How can museum directors preserve precious cultural objects for the public?
An event of the Basel.Durchzug association
Contributors and additional information:
Dr. A. Schmid, director Museum der Kulturen & Dr. A. Bignasca, director Antikenmuseum Basel. Mod.: I. Grüter, SRF 2 Culture
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