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A diamond, parts of a temple, sacred masks or a towering obelisk.

Objects like these can be admired in museums, but currently the provenance and ownership of these objects is under discussion. During wartime, revolutions and colonialism they were taken as loot, were acquired through diplomacy or were bought. What within its time-specific context seemed legitimate, may be looked at differently nowadays. How do we look at this (colonial) looting in retrospect? Recently there is a growing recognition of the validity of restitution claims. But what is cultural ownership? Who owns culture?

In this eight-part television series, the historical legacy and its current implications are examined. Each of the eight episodes is centred around an appealing art object. The series take the viewer on a journey of discovery to shed new light on its cultural, artistic and historical meaning. We talk to art historians, museum curators and directors, we visit the countries (often former colonies) where the artefacts originated from and meet experts and stakeholders to give insight into the dilemma’s involved in these complex issues. What should museums do or should not do about disputed objects? Where do treasures from the past rightly belong, and why?

Art Dispute
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