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Human remains to be returned

17 November 2006

Human remains to be returned from Natural History Museum's collection

Yesterday the Natural History Museum's Board of Trustees considered advice from its Human Remains Advisory Panel (NHMHRAP) on the return of human remains from the Museum's collection to their countries of origin. The advice relates to a claim lodged by the Australian Government in November 2005 and to a request under that claim from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC).

The Natural History Museum's Board of Trustees has decided to transfer the remains of 17 Tasmanian aboriginal people to the Australian Government which has designated the TAC to be the receivers of the Tasmanian remains. The Trustees have also decided to return the skull of an aboriginal person from Australia to the Australian Government. Both decisions were in line with the advice of the NHMHRAP. The Trustees also accepted the panel's advice that the Natural History Museum should complete collection of data from the Tasmanian human remains prior to their return.

'We welcomed the legislation that came into force in 2005, as a mechanism that allows us, for the first time, to consider cases for the return of human remains to their countries of origin', said Oliver Stocken, Chairman of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum. 'Our decision demonstrates the Museum's commitment to look at each case fairly and transparently, in line with the guidelines set out by the UK government.'

Read the full human remains statement.

Read the Museum pledge regarding Tasmanian remains  


Natural History Museum Human Remains Advisory Panel members

Sir Bob Hepple (Chairman)
Dame Marilyn Strathern
Professor Sandy Thomas
Sir Ian Kennedy

The panel is currently looking for a further two independent members

And two ex officio members:
Professor Georgina Mace (NHM Trustee)
Professor Richard Lane (NHM Director of Science)