Whose Art? Museums and repatriation

The debate over repatriation engages powerful and personal sentiments of morality, nationhood, and identity, and few people can talk about it without raising their voice.

videos + essays

Paikea at the American Museum of Natural History
Paikea at the American Museum of Natural History

After a century in storage, this “Whale Rider” got a visit from his descendants—and received a token of their love.

Repatriating artworks
Repatriating artworks

The era of repatriations has finally come. The work is slow and uneven and there are countless objects yet to return home, but repatriations are now occurring at a rate never before seen.

The many meanings of the Sarpedon Krater
The many meanings of the Sarpedon Krater

This pot has been the subject of so much violence, desire, admiration and contention, and its meaning has been remade many times.

Seizure of Looted Antiquities Illuminates What Museums Want Hidden
Seizure of Looted Antiquities Illuminates What Museums Want Hidden

The truth is that the route to the gallery is often ugly, built on crime, brute force, and lies. When we catch a glimpse of that reality, we must not look away.

Napoleon’s booty—Perugino’s (gorgeous) <em>Decemviri Altarpiece</em>
Napoleon’s booty—Perugino’s (gorgeous) Decemviri Altarpiece

Napoleon's confiscation of thousands of works of art forever changed the cultural landscape of Europe.

Who owns the Parthenon sculptures?
Who owns the Parthenon sculptures?

Ancient Greeks made them, Ottomans captured them, Venetians blew them up, and the British took them away.

Plunder, war, Napoleon and the Horses of San Marco
Plunder, war, Napoleon and the Horses of San Marco

To the victor go the spoils—armies have taken art as trophies throughout history.

Looting, collecting, and exhibiting: the Bubon bronzes
Looting, collecting, and exhibiting: the Bubon bronzes

Where do objects in museums come from? Explore the tension between collectors and the preservation of history.

Nazi looting: Egon Schiele’s <em>Portrait of Wally</em>
Nazi looting: Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally

A third of the artwork in Europe was moved or stolen during WWII, and legal battles for their return rage on.

From tomb to museum: the story of the Sarpedon Krater
From tomb to museum: the story of the Sarpedon Krater

Gods carry away the dead on a pot looted from a tomb, trafficked out of Italy, bought by the Met, and finally returned.