European museums may “loan” stolen artifacts back to African countries


The legacy of colonialism and empire looms large in Europe.

In recent months, museums in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have begun to address the fact that large portions of their collections are, well, not theirs — and were stolen from other countries during the colonial era.

But there’s no consensus on how to deal with the issue. And as the Washington Post reports, some museums are proposing “loaning” the artifacts back to their countries of origin for limited periods of time — rather than actually returning them.

Countries like Benin and Ethiopia, among others, have long requested that artifacts that were plundered or looted by European armies be returned. Since the 1960s, Nigeria has been calling for the return of about 4,000 ivory and bronze artifacts that the…

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