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Provenance research and why it matters

Uptown Campus
Dinwiddie Hall

Featuring Dr. Viola König

Provenance research and why it matters.


At the end of last year, a highly anticipated report commissioned by the French President Emmanuel Macron, recommended the permanent repatriation of African heritage looted during the colonial era. The contents of the 108-page study could have far-reaching implications for not only French institutions but also international museums that are facing increasing calls to return works of art and artifacts that come from countries in Africa and beyond, which were arguably stolen. The report comes at a time when the subject of colonial restitution has been catapulted from an insider topic within museum communities to a worldwide public issue. 

In my talk I will briefly introduce the reactions the report provoked. What has been the response and state of collections since then? In the second part of my talk I will sum up findings from my provenance research with the M.A.R.I. collections, and how they differ from the international collections under discussion. 

Middle American Research Institute