Rijksmuseum to start talks about stolen art with Sri Lanka
Posted on March 12th, 2019

Courtesy dutchnews.nl

The Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam is starting talks with Sri Lanka and Indonesia about some 1,000 pieces in its collection that may have been stolen and become part of the Dutch ‘colonial heritage’, Trouw reports.

The move comes after last week’s decision by the Dutch National Museum of World Cultures (NMWC) to publish guidelines for countries to claim stolen art or art that is of great cultural significance to a country. ‘It’s a disgrace that the Netherlands is only now turning its attention to the return of the colonial heritage’, Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbets told Trouw.

‘We should have done it earlier and there is no excuse.’ Talks in Sri Lanka will begin in two weeks’ time and will centre around the return of some ten objects.  They include a ruby-encrusted canon which was taken as booty following a military campaign in 1765 and the Banjarmasin diamond which was the property of sultan Panembahan Adam of Banjarmasin (South Borneo) which was colonised by the Dutch in 1856.

The Rijksmuseum has around 4,000 colonial object, not all of which, Dibbits says, were stolen. All objects are owned by the state so museums cannot take the decision to return an object on their own.

The NMWC guidelines have come in for criticism because they don’t include much about the steps museums themselves could take before claims come in. ‘Before there is any negotiating to be done, the Netherlands already sets out its conditions. It’s a typically Dutch approach. How is that going to lead to a satisfactory joint decision?, Trouw quotes historian and stolen colonial art expert Jos van Beurden as saying.

3 Responses to “Rijksmuseum to start talks about stolen art with Sri Lanka”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Sri Lanka’s artefacts must be returned.

    However, we must ensure they are protected. Our museums are politicized, robbed and delapidated. In that event, it is best to leave them in these European museums where they get the care they deserve. We must fix our museums, provide them secutiy externally and internally and have proper conservation mechanisms before receiving them.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Even the sword and some Jewelry of King Dutugemunu were stolen from our museum in 2013 by a ragtag group with political backing. Some of these objects and their copies made from stolen artefacts were found from the official residence of a politician. Politicians were also seen wearing some of these copies which led to many more controvercies!

    It is said that those who steal ancient Sinhala artefacts for their personal benefit are cursed eternally down to 7 generations.

    This type of things must not be allowed.

  3. Randeniyage Says:

    @Dilrook
    Looks like you are reluctant to mention the name here.
    You raised a very good point. Looks like we cannot protect the nation from “patriotic politicians”, not form USA, India, Britain, CIA, RAW, NGO ….. you name it.
    Yet we prefer them back again and again and again. Very sad.

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