The Consulate General of Nepal, and the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, jointly announced the return of two art objects from Rubin's permanent collection to Nepal.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Acting Consul General Bishnu Prasad Gautam, and Executive Director Jorrit Britschgi, on their respective behalf of the Government of Nepal, and the Rubin Museum of Art, at a ceremony organized at the Museum for this purpose.
The artworks scheduled to return include an upper section of a Frieze/Torana (17th century) and a Garland Bearing flying Apsara/Gandharva (14th century). The Torana was lost from the main door of Yampi Mahavihara/I-Bahi, Patan, Lalitpur. According to the Museum officials, the artwork arrived at the Museum in 2010. The work of flying Apsara is originally from Keshchandra Mahavihara, Itum Bahal, Kathmandu which was lost in 1999 and added to the Museum's collection in 2003.
Receiving the art objects, the Acting Consul General remarked, "The proactive and warm response and thoughtful collaboration from the Rubin have positively contributed to Nepal’s national efforts to recover and reinstate the lost artifacts". He expressed deep gratitude to the Rubin Museum, it's Executive Director, Board of Trustees, the Museum’s scholars, and officials for their initiative and cooperation in returning these artifacts back to Nepal. He also appreciated the support received from the media, civil society, and others in this endeavor
The Consulate General and the Museum collaborated to verify the origin of these arts, possibilities to return to the original sites, and repatriation. During this process, the Museum engaged two scholars of Nepali art to further examine and research the known provenance of the artworks. Inputs to determine the ownership and origin of the artworks were received from the Department of Archaeology of the Government of Nepal.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Jorrit Britschgi, Executive Director of the Rubin Museum commented, “As custodians of the art in our collection, the Rubin recognizes that we have an ongoing duty to carefully research the art and objects we collect and exhibit. The theft of archaeological objects continues to be a major concern in the art world. Rubin’s collecting activities adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional practice related to provenance. We believe it is our responsibility to address and resolve issues of cultural property, including helping to facilitate the return of the two objects in question".
The Consulate General and the Rubin Museum expressed their willingness to work closely in the promotion of art and culture, including Himalayan art, as these collaborative efforts contribute to the preservation of the cultural heritage, and further strengthen the long-standing people-to-people ties between Nepal and the United States of America.