Return of objects from the collections

Here you can find out how we work with issues related to the return of museum objects, sometimes called repatriation. Below you can read our policy and routine description.

The Museums of World Culture manage a collection of objects originating from all over the world. The objects include cultural objects, utility objects, natural history objects, works of art, photographs, books, archive material and also human remains.

The objects have been collected between the 17th century until today, in different ways and for different purposes. The ways they have been collected reflect the views of different ages on museums, collections, and cultures. Therefore, there are objects with a history that can be considered problematic. Today, discussions about returning objects, sometimes called repatriation, are active throughout the museum and art world.

When a request for return comes to the Museums of World Culture, it is handled by the authority's council for returns. When we have enough information, we start to investigate the case. The information we need is specified in our routine description. We always strive for a good dialogue with the claimant.

A return case can also be initiated by the Museums of World Culture. Our ambition is to work proactively to identify objects in the collection where there may be grounds for return. The work is resource-intensive, and we work to strengthen the capacity in these matters.

The collection is owned by the Swedish state. Decisions on return to recipients outside Sweden are therefore made by the government following a recommendation from us.

Return issues and collaboration with various stakeholders to the collections is one of several focus areas for the research that we conduct and participate in.

Documents and links

The agency's Policy, Routine Description and Legal and Ethical Framework