via New York Times, 09 November 2022: Indonesia is seeking the repatriation of the Java Man remains, and other artefacts taken during the colonial period.
The highlight of the proud Dubois trove is in the museum: The Javanese, the first known specimen of Homo erectus, long considered the “missing link” between man and apes, is part of a popular display. about human evolution. A skull cap, femur and molars appear to hover in the lens in the central lobby, alongside a rendering of what the Java Man might have looked like.
But the remains are more than a museum hub, they are also the focus of an international war on replacement.
Indonesia wants to get the femur and skull fragments back. Or rather, it wants to start with the return of those pieces, but ultimately it wants the entire Dubois Collection. This claim is only part of a larger Indonesian request for objects from several Dutch museums, but it is by far the most controversial.
While art museums have struggled since the 1990s with claims that they keep or display Nazi art of lootingand ethnographic museums have had to deal with request repatriation from African countries and indigenous peoples all over the world, the Java Man case pushes restitution into the realm of natural history museums – where it has not been an issue until now.