September 14, 2006

Is the Natural History Museum cooperating over Aboriginal remains?

Posted at 12:57 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Reports earlier in the week suggested that while the British Museum had agreed to return Aboriginal remains, the Natural History Museum was not being so cooperative.
The Natural History Museum disagrees with these allegations – however, they have still not even given the most basic information such as the total number of items in their collection which involve Aboriginal human remains.
It is worth noting that on this particular issue the British Museum has been unusually cooperative – however it could be argued that Aboriginal remains do not represent such a major part of their collection, nor do they fit so much within the core focus of the museum’s collection.

ABC News (Australia)

Last Update: Wednesday, September 13, 2006. 7:00pm (AEST)
Museum ‘still deciding’ on Indigenous remains’ return

A museum in Britain has dismissed reports it has refused to give back the remains of Tasmanian Aborigines.

Two delegates from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre are in the UK, where they have collected the ashes of two of their forebears from the British Museum.

The pair has talked to another institution, the Natural History Museum, about repatriating remains held in its collection.

The museum says it is yet to decide whether to return the remains.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Michael Mansell says he has little hope of them being returned.

Mr Mansell says he does not know exactly what is in the museum’s collection.

“Only the Natural History Museum knows that,” Mr Mansell said.

“We have been writing to them now for 30 years, asking them to outline precisely what they’ve got. They’ve refused.

“We do know that many institutions elsewhere in the United Kingdom sent their collections to the Natural History Museum after the second World War.”

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