AfricaMuseum director visits DRC to discuss restitution of cultural artefacts

The director of Belgium’s AfricaMuseum has met the Congolese Culture minister in Kinshasa to discuss the restitution of art objects to the DRC, the country’s press agency reported on Friday.

Bart Ouvry, a former diplomat who has been head of the museum for just over a year, has been visiting the DRC since Monday to “make progress together in the search for the provenance and restitution and reconstruction of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Congolese people”. He discussed the issue with Culture minister Catherine Kathungu Furaha on Thursday.

The visit is part of the implementation of a Belgian law, passed on 30 June 2022, which provides a legal framework for the restitution of objects illegitimately appropriated during the colonial period. It applies to property held by the federal state, most of which is in the AfricaMuseum, just outside Brussels. 

The law should lead to the signing of a bilateral treaty with the DRC to organise the transfer of objects after a provenance study, the office of secretary of state for Science Policy Thomas Dermine told Belga on Friday.

According to Kathungu, quoted by press agency ACP, the DRC has set up a national commission responsible for the repatriation of Congolese cultural property, archives and human remains.


#FlandersNewsService | A Kakuungu mask is prepared for shipment to the DRC at the AfricaMuseum in Tervuren, May 2022. The mask will be loaned to the National Museum in the DRC, awaiting an official ruling allowing stolen art to be officially returned © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR

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