Arts Council England

Institute of Art and Law appointed to develop ACE restitution and repatriation guidance

Article: David Styles | Image: Artefacts and artworks from the Parthenon are among the most contentious in the repatriation debate © British Museum

Arts Council England has selected the Institute of Art and Law to develop new guidance for museums on the restitution and repatriation of cultural objects.

Having opened the opportunity up to tender at the beginning of 2020, Arts Council England has appointed the Institute to form guidance for the sector. This is set to be published in the autumn.

The document will, it is hoped, foster a more proactive and coordinated approach across British museums by providing them with a practical tool to make decisions on issues of restitution and repatriation. The guidelines will be informed by and include a range of case studies, best practice and signposting to other useful resources.

Discussing the organisation’s appointment, Alexander Herman, assistant director of the Institute of Art and Law, said: “We have worked for many years with museum professionals who often tell us there is little in the way of guidance for dealing with claims for restitution and repatriation and related issues.

“We therefore applaud Arts Council England in taking this step and look forward to working with them to produce clear and practical guidance for the sector. UK Museums have an opportunity to play a leading role in this area.”

Covering the moral, ethical and legal considerations of such practices, the guidance will be applicable to museums of all sizes, regardless of collection types or disciplines. The goals of its publication will include the facilitation of proactive collections research; establishing relationships with international cultural institutions and communities; dealing with claims; and making decisions on the potential return of objects.

The Institute will work alongside Professor Janet Ulph from the University of Leicester as it conducts wide-ranging research and consultation across and beyond the nation’s museum sector.