136 Years Later, French Sending Maori Head Home

Rouen Museum displayed mummy for 136 years

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted May 9, 2011 4:24 AM CDT | Updated May 9, 2011 6:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – A mummified Maori head is finally going home, after 136 years on display at a French museum, reports AP. The Rouen Museum, which has little information about how it acquired the head from a mysterious Parisian in 1875, had agreed to return its head in 2007, but was blocked by France's Culture Ministry. The ministry considers the tattooed, mummified head to be a part of France's scientific and cultural heritage, but a law passed last year allows the Maori head to return to its homeland.

New Zealand has tried for years to get back Maori heads kept in collections around the world, so far receiving more than 300 heads from a half-dozen countries. But France still has 15 more Maori heads in museums around the country, and it is not known yet which will be returned, if any. "There is a fear of emptying our museums," said the director of the Rouen Museum. "There is a fear of restitution demands for other human remains, and notably Egyptian mummies."

This drawing provided by the Rouen Museum shows a computer generated image of a Maori head that will be returned to New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Delphine Zigoni; Rouen Museum)
This computer image provided Friday, April, 15, 2011 shows a computer generated image of a Maori head that will be returned to New Zealand on May 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/Sebastien Varea/AFT-3DARTS)
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