Colonial-Looted Cultural Objects in England

Lauren Bursey


This article provides an overview of the state of legislation and the efforts toward the repatriation of colonial-looted cultural objects in England. It discusses the National Heritage Act, Charities Act, and general trust rules which make it challenging to deaccession any objects from museums in the United Kingdom, including and especially colonial-looted objects. It highlights how the UK’s former period of colonization resulted in vast holdings from these territories, but that the UK has yet to create a comprehensive policy on repatriation, despite numerous calls for return of several famous heritage objects, including the Maqdala treasures and the Benin Bronzes. This article sketches the powers of the current possessors – namely national, regional, and university museums. Finally, the article considers the many updates in the conversation surrounding colonial repatriation in 2022, from the debate at the House of Lords to potential changes to the National Heritage Act to the new Charities Act to the publication of Arts Council England’s guidelines for museums on restitution and repatriation.

Słowa kluczowe: United Kingdom, Museums Act, colonial restitution, Benin Bronzes, Charities Act

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