Apr 3, 2018

The Victoria and Albert Museum offered Ethiopia a long-term loan of artifacts which were looted from the country.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is offering to return the artifacts plundered from Ethiopia by British troops during the 1868 Battle of Maqdala in the form of a long-term loan to the country. The works are currently on view as part of an exhibition at the British museum. The V&A’s proposal, which follows French president Emmanuel Macron’s historic announcement that restitution of African artifacts would be a top priority for his country, will likely place pressure on other institutions, such as the British Library and the British Museum, to consider restitution plans themselves, The Art Newspaper reported. More broadly, the V&A will “reflect on this imperial past, to be open about this history and to interpret that history,” according to director Tristram Hunt. The museum’s proposal, however, means that while Ethiopia would get the treasures back, the V&A will remain the technical owners of the collection. Nonetheless, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.K., Hailemichael Aberra Afework, told The Art Newspaper, “We were consulted about the V&A exhibition from its inception, and we appreciate that these sacred treasures will now be on display. We hope they will be of great interest to the British public. Ethiopia has been demanding the return of all treasures taken from Maqdala for some years now.”