Museum Security Network

ONCE IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, ALWAYS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM: IS THE DE-ACCESSION POLICY OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM A FARCE?

Normally, in cases of claims for stolen property or illegally detained objects, it is sufficient for the owner to establish beyond reasonable doubt that he is the rightful owner of the object in dispute and that the present holder of the object has no lawful right to the object. The present holder of the object then has to establish his right e.g. that he bought the object lawfully from a third party.

In the case of request for restitution of stolen objects in the British Museum, the situation has been radically changed by the British Museum, the British Government and the British Parliament. The question of legal ownership is not even posed. The fact that the object belonged to you or your family or community is rendered irrelevant. The question which is fundamental to all claims of property, the legal right to ownership, has been displaced and the main question here is not whether you have a legal right to the object but whether the British Museum can afford to dispense with the object in question i.e. whether it can and will de-accession the object. This issue came up in a recent exchange of correspondence between Toyin Agbetu, Head of Social and Education Policy, The Ligali Organization, London, and Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum, London.

Full text and images:
http://www.museum-security.org/kwame_opoku_12may2008.pdf

 

Museum Security Network / Museum Security Consultancy
toncremers@museum-security.org
http://www.museum-security.org
Handboek Veiligheidszorg Erfgoedbeheerders
http://www.handboekveiligheidszorgmusea.nl/

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