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Arts Council England renews guidelines on repatriations and restitutions claims

A report commissioned by Arts Council England and the Institute of Art and Law seeks to provide museums in the U.K. with guidance on how to deal with restitution and repatriation claims.

The report replaces two-decade-old guidelines on restitution and repatriation. The last such guideline was made in 2000. The new report has not changed its rule regarding the articles collected during or related to the Nazi era.

The report seeks to help museum leaders “take proactive action in a spirit of transparency, collaboration, and fairness,” according to the report introduction.

The guidelines and rules of the report are primarily for museums in the UK. But the authors believe that museums around the world can also follow the guidelines.

The authors of the report ask the museum leaders to ensure that the claims of restitutions and repatriations must be based on legal grounds. They urge the leaders to seek legal aid whenever the need comes up. They also have to keep four ethical considerations in mind when seeking legal advice and action. Those four ethical considerations are “how important the object is to the claimant”, ” how the artwork was procured from its original place,” “how the museum has taken care of the artwork”, and “who is the claimant”. These four ethical considerations would help in cases of claims.

The authors of the report explain that repatriation claims can be complex. But, they can teach history to everyone involved.

The Arts Council report emphasizes that the process for the claims is not uniform. The process might change according to the article in question. The acquired articles in the museums came into the museums during different times and different situations.

The goal of the report is to prevent “defensive and adversarial” responses. The report also claims that the new rules and guidelines can be an opportunity for deeper conversations and learning of history.

The report also includes national and international laws regarding repatriation.