Belgium once controlled territory in Africa more than 80 times its own size. Now the call for the return of its colonial-era acquisitions is growing louder, writes Catherine Hickley.
An independent panel of scholars and experts has called on Belgian museums to restitute artefacts acquired in a colonial context and urged the government to create a neutral commission to evaluate restitution requests, an independent institute for provenance research, and a new law to facilitate returns.
Their proposals are similar to guidelines put forward in Germany and the Netherlands. But there is one big difference—in those countries, the guidelines were commissioned and adopted by the authorities. In Belgium, no official proposals on decolonising museums and restituting objects looted in the colonial era have so far been presented.
The report published on 2 June was "born out of a frustration at the lack of initiative on the part of the museums and government,” says Sarah Van Beurden, an associate professor of history and African studies at the Ohio State University and one of the authors... Keep reading on The Art Newspaper.