October 17, 2007

Liverpool to return remains to Australia

Posted at 1:53 pm in Similar cases

More on the decision by National Museums Liverpool to return some artefacts involving human remains, after requests by Australian Aboriginal groups.

Adelaide Now

UK museum to return Aboriginal remains
October 16, 2007 08:54pm

A BRITISH museum has agreed to unconditionally return Aboriginal remains, including a skull, to Australia.

National Museums Liverpool agreed to repatriate the remains of three individuals following a request from the Australian Government in January last year.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough welcomed the move.

“We encourage other institutions that have yet to consider Australia’s claims, to follow in National Museums Liverpool’s footsteps,” Mr Brough said.

A date is yet to be fixed for the return of the remains, which will be held at the National Museum of Australia pending their return to their communities of origin when known.

The latest repatriation comes after a much more controversial fight between Tasmanian Aborigines and the Natural History Museum in London for the return of 17 remains.

Those remains were finally handed back to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in early May after a court battle.

More than 1000 Indigenous remains have been returned to Australia since 1996.

National Museums Liverpool said none of the remains in its possession had been on public display or used for research or educational purposes.

One of the remains was collected from Darnley Island in the Torres Strait by explorers on the voyage of the Rattlesnake in 1849 and was acquired from the Norwich Castle Museum in 1956.

Another of the remains is believed to have originated in north Queensland and was given to the museum in 1981 by London’s Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, which bought it in 1933.

A skull, believed to be of mixed Australian and European ancestry, was bought in 1948 from Liverpool man William Broad, who visited Australia from 1902-04 and published works on Australian skeletal remains.

National Museums Liverpool director David Fleming said the repatriation of cultural items to their countries of origin was a complex, emotive and sensitive issue.

“National Museums Liverpool takes a decision in each individual case when items are requested for repatriation,” Dr Fleming said.

“Later this year human remains from National Museums Liverpool will be repatriated to New Zealand at the request of Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand.”

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