The fabulous story of a mummified Maori head of Rouen Museum
“The Rouen Museum has just returned a severed Maori head, which has been in its collections for 150 years, to New Zealand’s Te Papa Institute.” Behind this apparently insignificant piece of news lies a fabulous story. It has its origins in the worst periods of colonial conquest, and perfectly illustrates the philosophy of relationships between the West and indigenous peoples in the 19th century. It brings to light the delicate question of human remains housed in museums and their restitution, which has now become possible. In particular it is the story of the determination of a museum curator to return a Maori head, and his five years of wrangling with the Paris and provincial authorities. Above all it is the story of the long process of recovering the dignity of the Maori people of New Zealand.”The fabulous history of the Maori head of the Rouen Museum” is a documentary in the best sense of the word: it involves a completely new investigation which asks searching questions about moral values, with a backdrop spanning the globe.