Claire Vonn, Hyperallergic, April 23, 2018
"Earlier this month, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) offered to return, on longterm loan, objects to Ethiopia that British troops looted 150 years ago. The arrangement was proposed ahead of an exhibition showing the museum’s collection of treasures seized at Maqdala. But the Ethiopian government says that such a gesture is not sufficient, and that it will continue to seek permanent return of the artifacts.
Speaking with the Art Newspaper last week, Ethiopian ambassador to the UK Hailemichael Aberra Afework emphasized that the V&A, along with other British museums, must give up ownership of objects taken from his country and send them back.
Gold chalice with incised inscription, made by Walda Giyorgis, Gonder, Ethiopia, (1732-1740)
“My government is not interested in loans, it is interested in having those objects returned,” Hailemichael said. “Because that is the right thing to do.” He added that he hopes to see more dialogue ensue between governments and institutions.
Plundered during the Battle of Maqdala, an attack by the British army on the mountain capital, the 20 objects in the V&A’s exhibition have remained in storage for decades. Maqdala 1868 represents the first time they have been gathered together for public display. The exhibition opened on April 5 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the siege, and was organized in consultation with the Ethiopian Embassy in London. Included in the display are a gilded crown, a solid gold chalice, and a wedding dress believed to have belonged to the wife of Emperor Tewodros II."