(MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ) -- Arts Institute of Middlesex County has taken a significant step toward cultural preservation by repatriating historic cultural material from its museum collection to Peru. As an integral part of the American Alliance of Museum accreditation process, the Division of History and Historic Preservation meticulously identified culturally significant objects to be voluntarily returned to their country of origin.
Recognizing the ethical, moral, and legal concerns surrounding the artifacts, the County's curators collaborated with the Consulate General of Peru to facilitate their repatriation. The Middlesex County Board of Commissioners demonstrated unanimous support for this endeavor, authorizing the deaccession through a resolution presented on Thursday, June 1. The official repatriation ceremony followed shortly thereafter.
"Middlesex County takes immense pride in returning these historically and culturally significant artifacts to their rightful place in Peru," said Director of the Board of County Commissioners, Ronald G. Rios. "On behalf of the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners, I would like to extend our gratitude to the County’s Division of History and Historic Preservation for their efforts in identifying the ethical and problematic issues with having these artifacts in our collection and working diligently to repatriate them. We are committed to returning these cultural items to their rightful owners, while safeguarding the world's cultural history and knowledge of past civilizations for future generations."
Deputy Consul General Eduardo Manuel Lopez Echevarria, Consul General Patricia Raez Portocarrero, and Middlesex County Commissioner Deputy Director Ronald G. Rios
“Middlesex County stands firmly committed to cultural stewardship, acknowledging the importance of returning these artifacts to their rightful owners,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Chanelle Scott McCullum. “This collaborative effort sets an exemplary precedent for ethical cultural preservation initiatives worldwide."
Working in collaboration with Consul General Patricia Raez Portocarrero of the Consulate General of Peru in Paterson, museum staff meticulously identified the materials in question. Photographs of several clay artifacts were sent to the Ministry of Culture in Lima, Peru, where they were confirmed to belong to the pre-Hispanic Culture "Chimu" with "Lambayeque and Casma" styles, originating from the North Coast of Peru during the Middle Horizon (600 AD - 1000 AD) and Late Intermediate (1000 AD - 1476 AD) periods. These clay vessels feature incised geometric patterns, with some adorned with animal motifs.
"This repatriation effort marks an important milestone in preserving Peru's cultural heritage," said Middlesex County Historian Mark Nonestied. "Through collaboration and mutual respect, we ensure the rightful owners reclaim their rich history, while allowing future generations to appreciate and learn from these remarkable artifacts."
“Thank you very much to the Arts Institute of Middlesex County and the County and the County Commissioners for acknowledging and returning these artifacts to the People of Peru, as this is an integral part of who are as Peruvians and where we come from, as part of our identity and National History,” said the Consul of Peru for New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Patricia Raez Portocarrero.
This would be the second time this year that the Middlesex County Arts Institute has repatriated historical artifacts to their native land. In March, a collection of indigenous artifacts that were taken from Mexico City in 1941 were returned to the Government of Mexico. The artifacts consisted of over 160 ceramic and stone objects many with decorative images and sculpted elements. It is believed they belonged to pre-Aztec cultures at Teotihuacán about 1,000 years ago, however the materials are undergoing further evaluation by experts in Mexico City to make a final determination.
For more information on historic preservation initiatives in Middlesex County, please visit www.middlesexcountynj.gov/history.
Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 19 park systems, and world-class healthcare and research facilities making it one of the nation’s most dynamic regions and a leader in technology, transportation, the arts, and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to over 860,000 residents living throughout 25 municipalities. The County's award-winning Middlesex County Magnet Schools system and two-year Middlesex College uphold its position as #1 in the state for best schools, offering secondary and postsecondary education and workforce development programs that create a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Conveniently located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County is a leading destination for businesses and residents alike to live, work, and play – and has been since the 17th century.