June 30, 2009

Nazi art restitution bill likely to become law

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Andrew Dismore’s bill to allow the return of items looted during the holocaust now looks as though it is likely to become law. I would question though whether the problem it deals with is the loophole that it is described as here – to my mind it was very deliberately created part of the regulations governing many museums – although now some of its side effects are becoming less palatable to the public.


House of Commons OKs Restitution Bill on Nazi-Looted Art
Published: June 29, 2009

LONDON—A British bill that, at least in theory, would help return artworks looted by the Nazis to their rightful owners has cleared the House of Commons and now goes to the House of Lords. Members of Parliament in the House say the measure is largely symbolic and may never be used, but they believe it still sends an important signal about correcting an injustice.

Andrew Dismore’s Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill will plug a legal loophole preventing restitution in some cases. The bill covers such institutions as the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum, and it allows the Spoliation Advisory Panel to assess whether a work of art was looted and then recommend to the culture secretary if it should be returned. According to Dismore, a Labour Member of Parliament, the best estimate is that there are about 20 looted items in U.K. museums, although there could be more.

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1 Comment »

  1. DR. KWAME OPOKU said,

    07.03.09 at 4:36 pm

    “According to Dismore, a Labour Member of Parliament, the best estimate is that there are about 20 looted items in U.K. museums, although there could be more”.

    Even if attention were confined to Nazi-loot, there should be more that twenty in UK museums.

    There are definitely more than twenty looted items in U.K museums. In the British Museum alone there are many Benin Bronzes. If you add to this all the Ethiopian treasures and manuscripts, this museum alone has more than twenty. On the Ethiopian treasures that are in the British Museum, see Afromet http://www.afromet Ethiopian treasures are found at the following places in the United Kingdom: The British Library
    The British Museum
    Duke of Wellington’s Regimental Museum Halifax
    Dundee University Museum
    Edinburgh University Library
    The John Rylands Uni Library
    Lancaster Museum & Priory
    National Archives of Scotland
    The Schyen Collection
    The Victoria & Albert Museum
    Windsor Castle.

    Add to this, all the Asante Regalia and other items in Victoria and Albert to the Ethiopian crosses and crowns the number can easily reach hundreds. Let the British Parliament undertake to tell us the facts the museums have been hiding: how many of their exhibits are looted or acquired under dubious circumstances?

    Kwame Opoku.

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