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Denver Museum Plans to Repatriate Kenyan Sculptures

Thursday, January 09, 2014


DENVER, COLORADO—Thirty statues, some of them estimated to be 100 years old, that have been stored at the Denver Museum of Nature since 1990 will be returned to the National Museums of Kenya. Known as vigango, the statues are carved from wood by the Mijikenda people and erected to honor the dead. Many such statues have been taken and sold in the United States because there are no laws in Kenya or the U.S. to protect them. Monica L. Udvardy of the University of Kentucky has tracked vigango for the past 30 years. Her work led to the repatriation of two vigango—one from the Illinois State Museum and the other from Hampton University Museum in Virginia. To date, these two statues had been the only ones to have been returned by American museums.