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The Metropolitan Museum of Art is set to return two statues from Koh Ker, after a review of their provenance. These two statues are not the same ones involved in the Sotheby’s auction, but the museum’s action sets an interesting precedent for other museums.

Kneeling Attendant from Koh Ker, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 20130503

Kneeling Attendant from Koh Ker, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 20130503

Metropolitan Museum of Art to Return Two Khmer Sculptures to Cambodia
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 03 May 2013

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced today that it will return to the Kingdom of Cambodia two 10th-century Koh Ker stone statues of “Kneeling Attendants”—donated in separate stages to the Museum in the late 1980s and early 1990s—and on public display in its Asian Wing for nearly 20 years. The Met recently came into possession of new documentary research that was not available to the Museum when the objects were acquired.

The decision follows a recent meeting in Phnom Penh between senior museum officials and representatives of the Cambodian government.

Commented Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan: “The Museum is committed to applying rigorous provenance standards not only to new acquisitions, but to the study of works long in its collections in an ongoing effort to learn as much as possible about ownership history. This is a case in which additional information regarding the Kneeling Attendants has led the Museum to consider facts that were not known at the time of the acquisition and to take the action we are announcing today. In returning the statues, the Museum is acting to strengthen the good relationship it has long maintained with scholarly institutions and colleagues in Cambodia and to foster and celebrate continued cooperation and dialogue between us.”

Read the full media release here.

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