Recent repatriation news
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Press release from Papua New Guinea's Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, 22 August 2012 [PDF]
The National Museum and Art Gallery has officially received five human skulls back from Sydney, Australia where they had been stored as part of the estate of an Australian woman.
The skulls had been part of the estate of Lillian Hoffman, an avid Australian collector. After her passing a few years ago, the skulls were offered for auction at the Sydney Art Market.
Believed to be more than 100 years old the skulls were imported into Australia at various times before independence and had been there for the last 60 years. Minister Kondra commended the support of academics and museum colleagues in Sydney who shared moral concerns and anxieties over the trafficking and sale of human remains.
“We want to thank Dr Jude Philip of the Sydney University Macleay Museum and Dr Robbin Torrence of the Australian Museum for making it possible for the repatriation of these crania to our national museum,” Minister Kondra said.
The skulls are reputed to come from the Sepik River, the Goaribari Island in the Fly River area of Western Province and the Gulf Province.
The Director for the National Museum and Art Gallery Dr Andrew Moutu said however it was difficult to establish the definite origin of the skulls, therefore they cannot be returned to their home provinces.
“The National Museum has taken custody of these skulls in giving them a permanent home after their stay in cold overseas homes,” he said.