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Country of Origin: Ethiopia
Museum: Victoria & Albert Museum

“In 1868, British troops captured Maqdala in a battle that was part of a larger attempt to overthrow the Ethiopian empire. As they ransacked a fortress, the soldiers took with them various riches, including an ornate gold crown that is believed to have been commissioned in the 1740s by a ruler and her son.

That crown is now on view at Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which faced a call for the return and various other artifacts by Ethiopia in 2007. In 2018, as the museum put on view a special presentation devoted to the Maqdala artifacts, renewed attention was paid to that demand. That year, the museum’s director, Tristram Hunt, held out the possibility of a long-term loan to Ethiopia.

Although the museum notes on its website that the works act as an “unsettling reminder of the imperial processes which enabled British museums to acquire the cultural assets of others,” the V&A has said it will not return the crown and other objects as of 2021.” – ARTnews


07 October 2020: “The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has started talks with the Ethiopian embassy over returning looted treasures in its collections, including a gold crown and royal wedding dress, taken from the country more than 150 years ago.

Ethiopians have campaigned for the return of the items since they were plundered after the 1868 capture of Maqdala in what was then Abyssinia. Ethiopia lodged a formal restitution claim in 2007 for hundreds of important artefacts from Maqdala held by various British institutions, which was refused.

Tim Reeve, the deputy director of the V&A, told the Cheltenham Literature Festival that the move was part of the V&A’s work to “decolonise” its collections and to have a more honest conversation about history.” – The Guardian

2018: Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, “floated a potential long-term loan of the disputed Maqdala-era artifact back to the East African country in 2018.” – ARTnews