New twist in the case of african art. Interviewed by the Sunday Newspaper 2 December, the minister of Culture, Franck Riester, has assured that it will meet its commitments to return the thousands of works of african art belonging to France. It shows instead a more nuanced way of proceeding. “Our goal is very clear: young people need access to their heritage, but also to that of mankind. This is done through restitution, but also by loans, deposits and long-term exhibitions, trade engineering museum”, he explains in the pages of the weekly.
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“It is not to empty the museums, but to work closely with them on the aim to move the works,” said Franck Riester before adding, “it does not necessarily pass through a transfer of ownership.” The minister of Culture, ranks well behind the Academy of fine arts and the musée du quai Branly, favourable to a circulation of works rather than their restitution massive recommended in the report of the historian of the art French Bénédicte Savoy and the senegalese scholar Felwine Sarr.
On 23 November last year, the two experts submitted to the president of the Republic a report on the “restitution of african cultural heritage”, which proposes to amend the code of the French heritage to allow the withdrawal of object african ill-gotten gains to the national collection. In response, Emmanuel Macron announced the return to Benin of 26 works from the spoils of war of the French army in 1892. These pieces are part of the catalogue of the French national collections, therefore, they are protected by provisions of inalienability and of the statute of limitations, since the Sixteenth century by the Edict of Moulins.
in the Face of this node cornelian, Franck Riester has found that “the inalienability of works” was “an important principle but, like any principle, there may be exceptions and this could be the case with Benin”. “A legal study is underway. If it is necessary to pass a law, we’ll do it”, concludes the minister of Culture.