National Museum of Finland Will Return More Than 2,000 Artifacts to Sámi People

This year, the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki will return 2,200 artifacts to the Indigenous Sámi people as part of an agreement with the Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida, which is located in Lapland, the country’s northernmost region. According to a report by the Art Newspaper, the Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida will present the objects in a newly built extension.

The parties first agreed on the repatriation plan in 2017, and the artifacts included in the return were collected by the museum between 1830 and 1998. To mark the return of the objects to the Sámi people, the National Museum of Finland and Siida will mount the exhibition “Mäccmõš, maccâm, máhccan—Homecoming,” featuring 150 objects alongside archival materials, photographs, and contemporary works, in October. The show is being developed by Sámi activist Petra Laiti and the artist Outi Pieski is choosing audio-visual pieces for the presentation.

“The objects are returning to their original family context,” Elina Anttila, director-general of the National Museum of Finland, told the Art Newspaper, adding, “The objects are very useful as prototypes when younger people are learning the traditional techniques.”

The return of these artifacts to the Sámi people is not the only restitution initiative to make headlines in recent weeks. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced that it will return 33 objects valued at $1.8 million to Afghanistan following an investigation of the New York dealer Subhash Kapoor, and the Art Institute of Chicago recently assisted in the return of a looted linga sculpture from the 6th-century to Nepal.