Austrian Minister for Arts and Culture, Andrea Mayer, commissioned an internationally composed expert panel in January 2022 to develop recommendations for dealing with objects from colonial contexts in federal museums. These recommendations are now available and were presented by State Secretary Andrea Mayer, together with the chairman of the panel and director of the Weltmuseum Wien, Jonathan Fine, during a press conference.
"The internationally composed panel is pleased to present its recommendations to the Republic of Austria after 18 months of intensive deliberations. The creation of a framework for the restitution of unlawfully acquired cultural assets from colonial contexts, as well as cooperative provenance research as a basis for decision-making, are the key points. However, these recommendations only form one aspect of addressing the colonial past. We also recommend that the Austria foster increased cultural and scientific exchange with the countries concerned and support civil society initiatives that are committed to addressing colonialism," said Jonathan Fine, Director of the Vienna Weltmuseum and Chairman of the expert panel.
The panel has now presented a 24-page document containing a total of 20 recommendations. The most important recommendation is to return objects on a state-to-state basis when the context of injustice can be proven. In this context, the strengthening of provenance research in federal museums is also recommended. For cases where permanent restitution is not possible, the panel recommends that the federal museums be provided with options to implement alternative measures such as long-term loans or joint research projects.
State Secretary Mayer stated, "Rulers of European countries have long regarded large parts of the world as a source of personal gain, simply taking art objects and considering it their natural right. It is Austria's responsibility to acknowledge this as injustice and follow it with concrete actions of serious engagement." During the press conference, State Secretary Mayer announced that the BMKÖS will develop a corresponding draft law in the coming months, enabling the restitution of objects owned by the federal government in cases of colonial injustice.
Image : V.l.n.r. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Walter Sauer (Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, Universität Wien), Univ.-Prof. Dr. iur. Miloš Vec (Institut für Rechts- und Verfassungsgeschichte, Universität Wien), Golda Ha-Eiros, MA (leitende Kuratorin der Anthropologischen Sammlung, National Museum of Namibia, Windhoek), Dr.in Anna Schmid (Direktorin Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Schweiz), Staatssekretärin Andrea Mayer, Dr. Emmanuel Kasarhérou (Präsident, Musée du Quai-Branly, Paris), Dr. Jonathan Fine (Vorsitz Gremium, Wissenschaftlicher Direktor Weltmuseum Wien). Foto: BMKÖS/HBF/TRIPPOLT
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