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European Museums May Be Forced To Change in 2021


Senegal's President, Macky Sall, receives the sword of Omar Tall from French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at the Palace of the Republic in Dakar, Senegal, on November 17, 2019. Photo by Seyllou/AFP /AFP via Getty Images.

Three years ago, in Burkina Faso, French President Emmanuel Macron made a speech in support of returning cultural objects held in French museums back to their original communities in Africa. With this momentous event, questions shifted from whether European institutions should repatriate artifacts, to how they will get this done. Naomi Rea, for Artnet, discusses the ways in which France and other European nations are dealing with the logistics of how to best return objects that were taken under imperial rule.

“Whatever the stage of the debate, most experts agree that the movement has gathered an unstoppable momentum. And many now predict that, as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, we may also soon turn the page to a new chapter of this saga.” - Naomi Rea