MELBOURNE, 12 January 2022: New York’s Rubin Museum has announced the transfer of two Nepalese artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection on January 10, 2022. The return ceremony took place at the Rubin Museum.
At the return ceremony Acting Consul General Mr. Bishnu Prasad Gautam received the objects on behalf of the Government of Nepal.
“We are deeply grateful to the Rubin Museum of Art, its Executive Director, the Board of Trustees, and the Museum’s scholars and officials for their initiative and cooperation in returning these artifacts back to Nepal. We also appreciate the efforts of supporters and interested parties for their love of Nepali art. The proactive response and thoughtful collaboration from the Rubin have positively contributed to Nepal’s national efforts to recover the lost artifacts,” remarked Consul General Gautam at the ceremony.
A museum media release says, ” The objects scheduled to be returned include the Upper Section of a Frieze/Torana (17th century) and a Garland Bearing Apsara (14th century). The Upper Section of a Frieze/Torana once resided in a temple complex in Patan called the Yampi Mahavihara/I-Bahi/Yampi Bahi.
An unknown source removed the object from Nepal, and it came into the United States and joined the Rubin Museum’s collection in 2010. The Garland Bearing Apsara is documented to have been originally situated at the Keshchandra Mahavihara, Itum Bahal, Kathmandu, and went missing in the spring of 1999. It was brought to the United States and added to the Rubin Museum’s collection in 2003.”
The Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign brought the claims to the Museum’s attention after publicly noting their concerns over social media and in articles in the Nepali Times and the Kantipur in Nepal.
Jorrit Britschgi, Executive Director of the Rubin Museum of Art, says, ” We believe it is our responsibility to address and resolve issues of cultural property, including helping to facilitate the return of the two objects in question. We’re also pleased to share that an ongoing partnership between the Rubin Museum and Itum Bahal has come out of this collaboration. It will include documenting the temple’s collection and establishing a permanent display space for the objects. This is being jointly developed with the temple and a museology class at the Lumbini Buddhist University in Nepal.”