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Tony Grist

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Loot [Nov. 24th, 2018|08:52 am]
Tony Grist
19th century imperial adventurers did rather think they could help themselves to anything they came across on their travels. Captain Richard Powell, for instance, who fetched up on Rapa-Nui (Easter Island) in 1868, thought he'd like to take one of the Moai home with him as a souvenir. So he did- and gave it to Queen Victoria who gave it to the British Museum. The people of Rapa-Nui would now like their statue back. To us Brits it's just an imposing bit of basalt, to them it's a part of who they are- not just an image of an ancestor but an embodiment of the ancestor. The rights and wrongs are clear. It's stolen goods. It should go back.

There's a petition at change.org. I've signed it.


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Comments:
[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2018-11-26 02:05 pm (UTC)
A couple of years back, the Penn Museum had an exhibition on the Maya. It was a combination of original artifacts and replicas. To be honest, I found the replicas just as satisfying as the originals, or almost.

I think the Smithsonian is planning to do something similar with artifacts from indigenous peoples, and is in conversations with them about acceptable reproduction policies in anticipation of repatriation.

(Given that the Rapa-Nui totally destroyed the ecosystem of their island in their mad pursuit of making bigger and bigger Moai, I wonder they should be so attached to them.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-26 04:14 pm (UTC)
I think the making of replicas is the way to go. If it really matters to you to see the actual thing- then you'll make the effort to visit in its original setting- where it's meaning is underwritten and enhanced by context. I'm out of love with big metropolitan museums full of stuff from elsewhere. Small, local museums which house objects of local significance are quite another matter; those I love.
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