Returning ill-gotten art and artifacts

October 12, 2021
A museum worker carries a 19th century painting by Polish artist Robert Sliwinski during a ceremony in Warsaw, Poland in 2019. The work was looted by the Nazis during World War II and recovered in the U.S. by the FBI.

The Denver Art Museum is working to return four items from its collection to Cambodia. These objects, whose repatriation was already underway, were also spotlighted by the recent Pandora Papers investigation. The papers suggest some 40 relics tied to an indicted art dealer are in ten museums around the world, including Denver’s.

Returning art to its original and rightful owners is a huge discussion these days in the larger context of colonialism and conquest. And it's something associate history professor at the University of Denver, Elizabeth Campbell, has dedicated a career to. She directs DU's Center for Art Collection Ethics.