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National Museum lost 5,800 artifacts during civil conflict
Date Uploaded: Nov 24, 2013

MONROVIA, Nov 16 (LINA) – The National Museum in Monrovia is reported to have lost over 5,800 pieces of arts and artifacts to looters during the Liberian civil war.

Disclosing the information to the Liberia News Agency in an interview Saturday, the Director of the Museum, Mr. Albert S. Markeh, claimed most of the stolen materials were smuggled to neighboring countries, while some have surfaced in the African-American and Masonic Museums in the United States.

He retrieving the artifacts has been challenging for the National Museum because there is no law that could help the Museum engage the American Museums to retrieve the items.

Director Markeh, however, explained that in the absence of a treaty, the missing artifacts could be retrieved through diplomatic channels, and hoped that the Liberian Government will see the need to engage United States authorities over the issue.

In a related development, Director Markeh has disclosed that the National Museum on Broad Street in Monrovia is in a deplorable physical condition. He said the wooden structure housing the Museum, which was built over 75 years ago, needs urgent renovation to avoid total collapse. urgently to rehabilitate the National Museum building on Broad Street, it will collapse.

He said the building currently housing the National  Museum on Broad Street is fast declining, having being built in 1862 and has not undergone major renovation. 

The National Museum of Liberia is was established by an Act of the National Legislature in 1958 under the administration of Liberia's 18th President, Mr. William V.S. Tubman. Its primary goal was to obtain, preserve and display cultural artifacts and other historical items which depict the country's heritage.

The museum was deeply affected by the 14 years of civil war. Approximately 5,000 artifacts were reportedly looted during the war. Now, less than 100 larger artifacts remain. Still intact, though, is a 250-year-old dining table given as gift from Queen Victoria to Liberia's first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts. During the war, valuable museum items were often sold to fleeing expatriates and the museum itself came under fire during rebel attacks in 2003. Although the war severely affected the content of the museum, today it also has items which offer an insight into the war itself.

 

By Robert Dixon

LINA RD/TSS/JNS

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