Norwegian explorer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl took thousands of artifacts from Easter Island in the 1950s and 1980s, and finally, a Norwegian museum is returning those artifacts to their rightful owners.
At a special ceremony that was part of a visit by Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja, an agreement was signed between representatives of the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo and officials of Chile’s culture ministry promising the return of the collection to Easter Island. The collection includes sculptures, human remains, ancient weapons, and more.
As reported by The Guardian, Thor Heyerdahl Jr., the son of Thor Heyerdahl, who accompanied him on one of his expeditions to the Chilean island in the 1950s, attended the ceremony and said that it was always his dad’s goal to return the items after they had been analyzed.
Thor Heyerdahl’s expeditions to Easter Island were meant to test the theory that the Polynesian islands were settled by South American people rather than migrants from Asia.
Consuelo Valdes, Chile’s Minister of Culture, Arts, and Heritage, issued a statement saying, “As a ministry, we have the mission to respond to the just demand of the Rapa Nui people to recover their cultural heritage.”
The Kon-Tiki Museum is not the only institution facing requests for the repatriation of artifacts from other nations. For 150 years, the British Museum in London has been in possession of one of Easter Island’s most spiritually significant statues, and now the small Chilean island is imploring the British government for its return.