'The looting of Benin City and Maqdala were British crimes then and now: it should be a matter of national shame that the spoils of are still displayed in the British Museum, or in the museum of any other Western country which procured them by purchase from the British Foreign Office." - Geoffrey Robertson. (1)
Judging by the actions and statements of many European museum directors, I have, in the last few months, gained the impression that they have finally understood the struggles of African, Asian, and Latin American peoples for the restitution of their cultural artifacts looted during the oppressive colonial regime. (2) Did Neil MacGregor, former Director of the British Museum (2002–2017) and founding Director of the Humboldt Forum, Berlin, and one of the high priests of the universal museum not state in his latest book, A monde nouveau, musées nouveaux, that the western museums must adapt to a changed world where the authority of Western States is not accepted without questioning? (3) Today we read an article by Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, that raised doubts about this impression that Western museums have changed or are changing their attitudes towards colonial loot. The article by Hunt is entitled,
'Decisions on repatriating museum artifacts should be about the objects - not the politics.
We should do a lot more to distribute collections equitably, but a political assault on the idea of universal museums is not the answer.'
This article from the director of one of the major museums of the world is as amazing as it is disturbing. (4) We shall comment on a few of the author’s statement What does Hunt mean by 'decisions on repatriating museum artefacts should be about the objects-not the politics'?
How do we deal with artifacts without a primary push by politics? A State or some other political entity has to claim for repatriation before the museum decides to consider the demand. Cultural artifacts in Western museums are the most political objects one can consider by their mode of acquisition and history. Can we separate the Asante gold objects and the Maqdala treasures from their history, political backgrounds, and significance? These treasures have been looted in the course of hegemonic wars by Western imperialist powers such as Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Will objects per se lead us to any decision, let alone an equitable decision? Are there any qualities in objects that will lead to an equitable or inequitable decision? Is 'equitable' not itself a political qualification? If you take, for example, the Asante golden artifacts in the Victoria and Albert Museum, it is only their history of acquisition, the politics of constant British aggressions against Asante in the Gold Coast, now Ghana, that will help us to determine what is equitable. Without the politics and history of Anglo-Asante relationships and wars in the 18th and 19th Centuries, equity distribution will not be possible.
Hunt describes the thefts at the British Museum as potential thefts even though these objects were offered on E-bay for sale.
Hunt seeks to present demands for restitution after the reported thefts in the British Museum as opportunistic gestures:
'In the aftermath of revelations surrounding the potential theft of stored objects at the British Museum, critics of universal museums have wasted little time in urging the dismantling of western collections.'
We know that Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, and Nigeria have been asking for the restitution of their artifacts from British Museums for decades. Attempts to defame seekers of restitution have never helped, and Hunt knows it. (5) None of those seeking restitution of their artifacts has asked for the 'dismantling of Western collections .This is a fiction of the troubled imagination of a Western museum director, who dreams one night and hallucinates that he will get up and find his museum empty. Recent restitutions from Germany to Nigeria show that Nigeria has left some Benin treasures in German museums. (6)
'These criticisms align with broader contemporary trends we see around the world of nationalism and populism, deglobalisation and nativism.' A British Museum Director whose institution has looted artefacts from the entire world should not make such statements, knowing there have been requests for restitution before such concepts were invented. As for nationalism, who are more nationalistic than Western States that have massacred millions on behalf of their countries? (7)
Hunt presents himself as a great defender of the 'universal museum.' After all that we know about the concept of universal museum and the use to which such a concept was put, it is frightening to realize that there are people in London and elsewhere still defending such a concept.(8)
Hunt himself acknowledges the evil acts of imperialism based on universalism:
'Yet we also know that the European empires, especially of the later 19th century, were highly rapacious, militaristic, and racist enterprises for whom the act of collecting was part of the psychology of colonialism.
They helped to entrench a hierarchy of racist ethnography, the consequences of which we are still living with. Vast amounts of cultural material were looted, stolen, or purchased under pressure by British, French, Dutch, German, Belgian and Italian agents across what we now call the Global South.'
How can one fully conscious of the evil deeds of imperialism and universalism still support an idea of universalism, specifically, the concept of universal museum? Many museum directors condemn, without reservation, the evil deeds of imperialism and massacres done in the name of universalism, resulting in thousands of artifacts being looted from Africa that are in Western museums. But they are unwilling to return any looted items, even as a sign of repentance and desire to start new relations with African countries, victims of crimes against humanity. They want to eat their cake and keep it. The colonialist acts of deprivation and massacres are condemnable and, therefore, have to be undone as far as possible. To condemn imperialist acts and keep the fruits of those evil acts should not be accepted by the modern world. Imagine condemning Nazi atrocities and wanting to keep the fruits of Nazi acts.
The Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, like many of those opposed to restitution of looted African artefacts are happy to quote a text of an undoubted progressive African, Asian, or Latin American writer to buttress their retrograde views:
'The extraction of art, objects and craft was especially heinous in Africa, leading in 1978 to Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, the director general of Unesco, to deliver his "Plea for the Restitution of an irreplaceable Cultural Heritage to those who created it".
The reader should know that Amadou-M'Bow, the Senegalese Director-General of UNESCO, now retired, was and is in favour of the return of looted African artifacts. Several UNESCO/United Nations resolutions that were passed since 1972 on the Return of Cultural property to their country of origin. Museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum ignored the international organizations' demands. (9) Western countries vehemently opposed and criticized M'Bow for his views, especially his support for the New World Information and Communications Order (NWIOCO) and opposed his re-election as Director-General of UNESCO. (10) Indeed, the United States left UNESCO because of opposition to M'Bow. M'bow should not be used to support any scheme of loans or donations. If the respectable Senegalese scholar were to examine the question of restitution of African artifacts today, he would undoubtedly support outright restitution and not loans or any half-measures, especially after Germany and other countries have restituted Benin bronzes. Solutions proposed in 1978, which Western museums rejected, should not be presented in 2023 as supported by M’Bow. (11)
We should note the cynical way in which Hunt introduced the historic speech of French President Macron in Ouagadougou in 2017, which accelerated the pace of restitution:
'Some 40 years later, the unlikely figure of French President Emmanuel Macron – concerned about both rising Chinese and declining French influence in West Africa – took up the cause. "I cannot accept that a large part of cultural heritage from several African countries is in France … In the next five years, I want the conditions to be created for the temporary or permanent restitution of African patrimony to Africa," he told a crowded lecture theatre at the University of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, in November 2017'.
Declining influence of the French in African countries and fear of the rise of Chinese influence may have contributed to Macro's perspective on the world.
But do all these factors not also concern the British and other Western imperialists? Hunt does not refer to the report requested by President Macron and submitted in 2918 by Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy, The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage. Toward a New Relational Ethics,(2018). (12) This report forced many States to look at the question of restitution and set standards for future research on the subject of restitution. (13) Sarr and Savoy proposed that African artefacts taken under the colonial regime without the consent of the owners should be returned. This recommendation frightened Western States and museums who were hostile to returning looted African artifacts. The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum naturally were not thinking of such a revolutionary approach. (14)
After stating the positive steps taken by Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, in returning African artefacts or promising to do so, Hunt writes:
'However, both the British Museum and the V&A are prevented – by an Act of Parliament – from removing any objects from their collections. One day, British politicians might change this legislation and free up trustees to repatriate contested artefacts, but that is not going to happen quickly.'
Hunt does not mention the Acts of Parliament that specifically prevent those museums from removing objects from their collections. We assume he is referring to the British Museum Act of 1963 and the National Heritage Act 1983. We have challenged this opinion strongly held by many, including some who support restitution, that the British Museum Act,1963, prevents the museum from deaccession of any of the objects in the museum. We do not read the Act this way. The wording used in the Act is not prohibitive but permissive. Section 5 of the Act provides that the Trustees may dispose of objects under specified conditions
(a) the object is duplicate of another object, or
(b) the object appears to the Trustees to have been made no earlier than the year 1850, and substantially consists of printed matter of which a copy made by photography or a process akin to photography is held by the Trustees, or
(c) in the opinion of the Trustees the object is unfit to be retained in the collections of the museum and can be disposed of without detriment to the interests of students: Provided that where an object has become vested in the Trustees by virtue of a gift or bequest the powers conferred by this subsection shall not be exercisable as respects that object in a manner inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest. (15)
(1) The Trustees of the British Museum may sell, exchange, give away or otherwise dispose of any object vested in them and comprised in their collection if - (a) the object is duplicate of another object, or (b) the object appears to the Trustees to have been made not earlier than the year 1850, and substantially consists of printed matter of which a copy made by photography or a process akin to photography is held by the Trustees, or (c) in the opinion of the Trustees the object is unfit to be retained in the collections of the museum and can be disposed of without detriment to the interests of students: Provided that where an object has become vested in the Trustees by virtue of a gift or bequest the powers conferred by this subsection shall not be exercisable as respects that object in a manner inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest
Instead of interpreting the Act according to the normal rules of interpretation, the British Museum has read into the Act its policy not to consider any request for restitution. One can understand a museum with many looted artifacts not wanting to consider demands for restitution. The museum would be forever busy considering such requests. But this cannot replace the words of the Act.
What efforts have the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum made to get parliament to change the British Museum Act,1963 and the National Heritage Act 1983, if it is really considered as prohibiting restitution?
If the museums wished, they could consider, for example, many Benin artifacts as copies and return them.
The museums could also consider objects looted with brutality as unfit to be in their museums and their purposes. One could also return objects not made earlier than 1850 as provided in the Act. The museums could also consider that religious artifacts such as the tabots
of the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Benin treasures that were looted from altars should be considered as unfit to be in a museum since they deprive the owners of the right of worship ,reverence and adoration.
We have heard for decades lamentations about the restrictive effects of the British Museum Act, but we have no evidence that the major museums have pleaded with Parliament to change the law as they did with the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects)Act 2009, that authorised the museums to return cultural artifacts illegally acquired during the Nazi era.
Readers will remember that France also has a law dating from 1566, l’édit de Moulins, older than the British Museum Act of 1963 and the National Heritage Act of 1983, which also prevents French museums and institutions from disposing of the objects in their institutions, la règle de l’inálienabilité.
Through the efforts of President Macron, the French Parliament passed new legislation that authorised the government to restitute 26 looted objects from Musée de Quai Branly to the Republic of Benin in 2021. The French Parliament is now considering new legislation, following the Martinez report, that would authorise the Government to return artefacts without the need for new legislation for every case. Why can Britain not follow the example of France, its sister imperialist, with which it sometimes organized joint looting expeditions, such as the attack on the Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860?
Instead of helping to solve difficulties arising from the colonial past, Hunt declares:
First, begin with the object and not the politics. Museums cannot absolve the crimes of colonialism, and they should not be mobilized to assist contemporary geopolitical objectives. What is more, the provenance of each individual artefact is different: not everything acquired during the colonial was looted or stolen. Objective, detailed research is vital.
Why should museums that benefited infamously from the colonial system not be employed to solve problems arising from that system? Is the writer serious? Everybody should help except those that are best placed to understand the issues. We know that museum officials collaborated with invading colonial armies to assist the soldiers in recognizing what was useful in the invaded country to take back to Britain. We know that in the invasion of Maqdala, R. Rivington Holmes, an official of the British Museum, went with the British Army under Napier to identify the worthwhile objects to be looted. David Wilson, former Director of the BritishMuseum, wrote:
'One of the less glorious episodes in the history of the museum, in today's terms, was the Trustees' involvement in the punitive expedition to Abyssinia… In October 1867 Newton approached the Trustees to pass a suggestion from a Captain Sherwood that the museum should appoint a competent Archaeologist to accompany the army to Abyssinia to investigate the cultures of the area. He was supported by Franks, Vaux, Watts (Keeper of Printed Books) and Rieu(Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts).' (16)
After the looting, the British organized an auction to sell the treasures. According to Henry M. Stanley, who accompanied the British army to Ethiopia, Rivington Holmes seemed to have had more money than other bidders and purchased the Maqdala treasures that are now in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert museum Stanley wrote in his book, Magdala: The Story of the Abyssinian Campaign,1866-67: 'Mr. Holmes, as the worthy representative of the British Museum, was in his full glory . Armed with ample funds, he outdid all in most things; but Colonel Frazier ran him hard because he was buying for a wealthy regimental mess- 11th Hussars- and when anything belonging personally to Theodore was offered for sale, there were private gentlemen who outbid both. Mr Holmes secured many interesting articles. (17)
The British Museum homepage states:
'In 1867 he was appointed archaeologist to Lord Napier's Abyssinian Expedition to Maqdala. During the expedition he purchased a collection of material on behalf of The British Museum'
Where does Hunt get the idea that the provenance of every object is different? Are the Maqdala treasures not all from Maqdala, even if Tewodros II obtained objects through seizures from other places? Will the British now do justice between the Ethiopian Emperor and his opponents?
‘There is much to be done to build a more equitable distribution of collections – as well as curatorial practice, conservation techniques and education – between the Global North and South, but a political assault on the idea of universal museums is not the answer.’
Hunt provides no valid reason why the looted African or Asian artifacts in his collections should be divided between looters and the deprived owners. He
assumes both imperialist countries and deprived countries are equally
entitled to have a share of the loot. Do the artifacts themselves determine this or politics? Hunt ends his essay with this statement:
‘The role of museums is to provide a civic space, in which all feel ownership
that helps both to situate contemporary concerns within broader histories
and also, through the scholarly and challenging display of material culture,
to move beyond the limitations of prescribed identities and nationalist
Many Westerners attribute ideologies such as nationalism to their opponents
as if they were free of any such ideologies. Can one practice imperialism without any ideology, such as nationalism, which is the main ideology in Britain but is always presented as coming from foreign opponents such as Africans and Asians?
How do we feel ownership? From being a legal concept of entitlement to certain rights in specific objects, ownership has become a matter of feeling. How are we to understand this? The holders of looted artifacts enjoy ownership rights, and the deprived nations feel illusory ownership, specifically when they, after visa hurdles, reach the imperialist museums in London and elsewhere.
Tristram Hunt came from politics in the British Parliament to Victoria and Albert Museum artifacts. (18) Hunt attributes to artifacts certain qualities we may expect only from human beings, such as fairness and equitable justice. He attributes to objects themselves, an und für sich, qualities we seek from human beings, such as standards of justice and fair distribution. Such ideas, we submit, lead to placing material objects, and artifacts, before human beings. One can understand that a director of a museum such as the Victoria and Albert Museum that contains looted artifacts from the whole world would prefer to deal with artifacts under his control rather than with the people who own the treasures whom he cannot control. Hunt must agree that humans make artifacts and not vice versa. The Asante made the golden Asante artifacts in the museum in London and not the other way around.
Hunt concluded that without the politics behind the debates on restitution, ensuring fair distribution of objects would be simpler. He would like to ignore the politics of artifacts, but this means ignoring the history of the people who produced the treasures. Do cultural objects have any meaning outside the history and politics of the people who made them? Ethiopian objects without Ethiopian history and the British invasion at Maqdala? Asante artifacts without the history of the Asante and the British attack and burning of Kumase in 1874?
We have paid attention to the essay by Hunt mainly because he is the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which holds the Maqdala treasures and Asante golden objects. We know he has sent draft proposals to the Ghanaian authorities concerning the Asante gold treasures the British stole in their 1874 invasion of Kumase. We hope they contain better suggestions than some of the views expressed in his article. Ghanaians must reject any proposal short of outright restitution of the Asante treasures.
Do we make ourselves accomplices to the criminal acts of 1874 if we accept half-measures from London? We definitively do no honour to our ancestors who resisted British hegemony and paid with their lives that we may live as human beings with dignity.
A statement entitled Restitution and Reparation on the home page of the Victoria and Albert Museum makes it clear that the museum is only willing to enter into what it calls ‘renewable cultural partnership with museums and other cultural institutions around the world to ensure that the items in its care can be studies and appreciated beyond South Kensington, including in their countries of origin’. https://www.vam.ac.uk/info/restitution-and-repatriation
The statement makes it clear that the Victoria and Albert Museum has no intention of restituting any artefacts with full proprietary rights to the owners. The museum will use sympathetic words to keep demands for restitution under control and will museum promise to help in putting up a display of the looted treasures in Ghana. A tentative offer will be made subject to Ghana fulfilling certain conditions such as paying transport costs and insurance costs.
We must tell the British that most Africans cannot understand the logic of borrowing our artifacts from looters. The Ghanaian authorities may consider publishing the British proposals for us to judge their validity and whether the British maintain their arrogance and racist assumptions of God-given rights that led them to fight the Asante for decades in the Gold Coast, now Ghana, from 1823 to 1900. The secrecy introduced into museum matters can only benefit the Western illegal holders of looted artifacts. Deprived Africans have nothing to hide.
Ghanaians should turn down proposals not consonant with present ideas on restitution, even if the presenters quote valiant daughters and sons of Africa to support their insulting offers. If the British ruling class do not want to restitute the golden artifacts, looted hundred and fifty years ago, they should keep them until the elite on the British Isles finally accepts that it is wrong to steal the treasures of others and, after a hundred years, still refuse to return them.
“Gold gleams throughout the Ashanti story: one wonders in retrospect whether the punitive expedition would have been quite so dedicated if the major product of Ashanti had been anything else but the potent lure.”(19)
1. Geoffrey Robertson, Who owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the case for returning Plundered Treasure.p169, 2019,Biteback Publishers, London.
3. Neil MacGregor, À monde nouveau. Nouveaux musées-Les musée, les monuments et la communauté réinventée, Éditions Hazan, Paris,2021.
4. T. Hunt, Decisions on repatriating museum artefacts should be about the objects - not the politics https://www.thenationalnews.com/weekend/2023/09/08/decisions-on-repatriating-museum-artefacts-should-be-about-the-objects-not-the-politics/
5. K. Opoku, Reclaiming Looted Asante Gold (Ghana): Triumph Of Morality Over Brutality? https://www.modernghana.com/news/1206933/reclaiming-looted-asante-gold-ghana-triumph.html
6. K. Opoku, Berlin Decision On Benin Restitution: Germany On The Way To Restitution Of Looted African Artefacts https://www.modernghana.com/news/1079313/berlin-decision-on-benin-restitution-germany-on.html
7. K. Opoku, Can Nationalism Be Sold As Internationalism Via The British Museum? Sanctification Of British Spoliations And Loot, https://www.modernghana.com/news/197315/can-nationalism-be-sold-as-internationalism-via-the-british.html
K. Opoku, Is Nationalism As Such A Dangerous Phenomenon For Culture And Stolen/looted Cultural Property? https://www.modernghana.com/news/184173/is-nationalism-as-such-a-dangerous-phenomenon-for-culture-an.html
K. Opoku, The Cultural Nationalists Are All On The Other Side
8. K. Opoku, Is The Declaration On The Value And Importance Of The “universal Museums” Now Worthless? Comments On Imperialist museology. https://www.modernghana.com/news/265620/1/is-the-declaration-on-the-value-and-importance-of-.htmlIs9.
9. Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, A Plea for the return of an irreplaceable cultural heritage to those who created it: an appeal by Mr. Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, Director-General of UNESCO
UNESCO. Director-General, 1974-1987 (M'Bow, A.M.) The UNESCO Courier: a window open on the world, XXXI, 7, p. 4-5, illus. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000046054
M’Bow: A plea for the return of an irreplaceable cultural heritage to those who created it (1978) https://translanth.hypotheses.org/ueber/mbow
10. K. Opoku , Restitution Day: Remembrance And Reckoning https://www.modernghana.com/news/1193895/restitution-day-remembrance-and-reckoning.html
11. In 1978, restitution was still a dangerous word for Western museum directors who until recently in 2017 were not willing to discuss such issues. See K. Opoku, The Benin Bronzes, Restitution and Decolonization. The Debate on Colonial Loot and Reparations’, Keynote Lecture.
12. Felwine Sarr, Bénédicte Savoy, Rapport sur la restitution du patrimoine culturel africain. Vers une nouvelle éthique relationnelle. Paris 2018 ; English translation, The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage. Toward a New Relational Ethics (http://www.restitutionreport2018.com) https://www.unimuseum.uni-tuebingen.de/fileadmin/content/05_Forschung_Lehre/Provenienz/sarr_savoy_en.pdf
13. K. Opoku, Macron promises to return African artefacts in French museums: A new era in African-European relationships or a mirage? https://www.no-humboldt21.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Opoku-MacronPromisesRestitution.pdf
K. Opoku, Miracles, Reverses, And Hope in Restitution of Looted African Artefacts https://www.modernghana.com/news/906639/miracles-reverses-and-hope-in-restitution-of-looted-africa.html K. Opoku, France Moves Closer to Restitution of Artefacts to Benin and Senegal
https://www.modernghana.com/news/1019889/france-moves-closer-to-restitution-of-artefacts.html K. Opoku, Further Comments On Sarr-Savoy Report On Restitution https://www.modernghana.com/news/912541/further-comments-on-sarr-savoy-report-on-restitution.html
14. Margareta von Oswald ,The ‘Restitution Report’: First Reactions in Academia, Museums, and Politics
15.See Annex I below, The British Museum Act,1963.
16. David M. Wilson, The British Museum, A History, British Museum Press, 2002, p.173.Sending a specialist to accompany invading British army is a standard. This was done in Beijing(China) 1860, Magdala(Ethiopia)1868, Kumase(Ghana)1874, and in Benin City (Nigeria)1897.
17. Henry M. Stanley, Magdala: The Story of the Abyssinian Campaign,1866-67. Being the Second Part of the Original Volume Entitled; Coomassie and Magdala, Leopold Classic Library,1896,p.168.
18. K. Opoku, Love The “universal Museum” And Despise The Others: Comment On Article By Tristram Hunt https://www.modernghana.com/news/173717/love-the-universal-museum-and-despise-the-others-comment.html
K. Opoku, Tickets For All To The “universal Museum” But Without The Africans?
K. Opoku, To Decolonize Is To Decontextualize, Tristram Hunt. Should We Stop Asking For Restitution Of Our Looted Artefacts https://www.modernghana.com/news/943364/to-decolonize-is-to-decontextualize-tristram-hunt-should-w.html
19. Russell Chamberlain, Richard Chamberlin, Loot: The Heritage of Plunder, 1983, Thames and Hudson, London, p. 79.
Crown of Tewodros, Ethiopia, now in Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom, looted during the invasion of Magdala in 1868 by a British Punitive Expedition army. This crown is labelled at the Victoria and Albert Museum as ‘Crown of the Archbishop Abune Selam’. With typical colonialist and imperialist arrogance, this 18-karat gold crown was described as ’barbaric’ but still kept by the British.
Cotton dress of Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, Ethiopia, in Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom.
Gold chalice from Ethiopia looted by British soldiers at Maqdala, now in Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom.
Ethiopian cross in Victoria and Albert Museum ,London, United Kingdom. The eighth commandment, ’thou shall not steal,’ seems not to apply, in the opinion of some, to religious and precious objects of others. How else can we interpret the British attitude and treatment of Ethiopian religious artefacts, including the many Christian crosses and manuscripts which were looted I Magdala in 1868 and the less than respectful, some would say, disrespectful, blasphemous, and sacrilegious way of handling the issues of the restitution of Ethiopian artefacts?
Orthodox priest carries a covered tabot in a ceremony in Gondar, Ethiopia. Photo: Jialiang Gao https://commons.wikimedia.
Gold pectoral “soul” disc, Kumase, Asante, Ghana, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Asante gold pendant, Kumase, Ghana, now in Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom.
EXTRACT BRITISH MUSEUM ACT 1963
5. Disposal of objects.
(1)The Trustees of the British Museum may sell, exchange, give away or otherwise dispose of any object vested in them and comprised in their collections if—
(a)the object is a duplicate of another such object, or
(b)the object appears to the Trustees to have been made not earlier than the year 1850, and substantially consists of printed matter of which a copy made by photography or a process akin to photography is held by the Trustees, or
(c)in the opinion of the Trustees the object is unfit to be retained in the collections of the Museum and can be disposed of without detriment to the interests of students:
Provided that where an object has become vested in the Trustees by virtue of a gift or bequest the powers conferred by this subsection shall not be exercisable as respects that object in a manner inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest.
(2)The Trustees may destroy or otherwise dispose of any object vested in them and comprised in their collections if satisfied that it has become useless for the purposes of the Museum by reason of damage, physical deterioration, or infestation by destructive organisms.
(3)Money accruing to the Trustees by virtue of an exercise of the powers conferred by this section [F1or section 6 of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992] shall be laid out by them in the purchase of objects to be added to the collections of the Museum.
EXTRACT FROM NATIONAL HERITAGE ACT 1983
6 Acquisition and disposal of objects.
(1)The Board may acquire (whether by purchase, exchange or gift) any objects which in their opinion it is desirable to add to their collections.
(2)Without prejudice to any power apart from this subsection, a Minister of the Crown may transfer to the Board any object (whether or not he acquired it before the Board’s establishment) if in his opinion it would appropriately form part of their collections.
(3)The Board may not dispose of an object the property in which is vested in them and which is comprised in their collections unless—
(a)the disposal is by way of sale, exchange or gift of an object which is a duplicate of another object the property in which is so vested and which is so comprised, or
(b)the disposal is by way of sale, exchange or gift of an object which in the Board’s opinion is unsuitable for retention in their collections and can be disposed of without detriment to the interests of students or other members of the public, or
(c)the disposal is [F1an exercise of the power conferred by section 6 of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992], or
(d)the disposal (by whatever means, including destruction) is of an object which the Board are satisfied has become useless for the purposes of their collections by reason of damage, physical deterioration, or infestation by destructive organisms.