Hard Bargaining: Museums Face Claims for Returns of Artefacts

Four French museums: the Louvre, the Musée du quai Branly, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Muséum de Rouen are faced with pressing demands to return several works of art back to countries across the world; primarily Egypt, Mali and New Zealand.

Cultural heritage is at the heart of this debate. In November 2010, President Sarkozy’s decision to return 297 Korean royal manuscripts sparked huge controversy. To some, it violated the non-returnable policy of these national collections, to others, it is fair compensation to victims of colonialisation.

This documentary investigates the clash of principles between these rich museums and source countries. Is art universal and belong to humanity or is it right to return it to its country of origin?


  • Year: 2011
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Via Decouvertes
  • Director: Philippe Tourancheau
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France


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