Ok, it’s a question of cost not province.
The Brooklyn Museum is preparing to return about 4,500 pre-Columbian artifacts taken from Costa Rica roughly a century ago.
Costa Rica had made no claim to the objects, which were exported in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Minor C. Keith, a railroad magnate and a founder of the United Fruit Company. And there were none of the conflicts, legal threats or philosophical debates that sometimes accompany arguments between museums and countries that claim ownership of antiquities in their collections.
Instead, the museum simply decided that its closets were too full, overstuffed with items acquired during an era when it aimed to become the biggest museum in the world. So it offered the pieces to the National Museum of Costa Rica, which accepted but has yet to raise the $59,000 needed to pack and ship the first batch.
The objects that the Brooklyn Museum plans to let go are primarily made of ceramic and stone; they include bowls and other vessels, figurines, benches and ceremonialmetates, or grinding stones. They are among 16,000 artifacts, some made of gold and jade, that Keith and his workers found on his Costa Rican banana plantations. About 5,000 of these pieces ended up in Brooklyn.
The museum plans to keep some of the most valuable pieces, including gold and jade animals and anthropomorphic figurines and pendants. It is unlikely that many of the items being returned have ever been exhibited, although the museum’s records are not precise in that regard. Earlier efforts to give them to Costa Rican and American museums were unsuccessful.
“It’s exciting to find a home” for the objects, the museum’s curator of the arts of the Americas, Nancy Rosoff, said. “Hopefully they can come up with the money.”
Read the rest of Kate Taylor’s story in the New York Times.