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.

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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." (Read more Maori stories.)

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