Utimut – the return of cultural heritage from Denmark to Greenland

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


For nearly two decades (1982–2001), Denmark and Greenland engaged in an extensive museum partnership resulting in the return of approximately 35,000 archaeological and ethnographic artefacts – a process later identified as Utimut, the Greenlandic word for return.
During colonial times, Danish officials, arctic explorers and missionaries collected archaeological and ethnographical artefacts in Greenland. As a result, the National Museum of Denmark became the holder of one of the world’s largest Arctic collections. Greenlandic requests for repatriation go back nearly a century and have from the outset been linked to both the construction of museum institutions within Greenland and the overall political processes leading towards decolonization in 1953 and the introduction of home rule in 1979.
This paper gives a brief outline of the historical background of the presence of Greenlandic collections in Denmark and an insight into the subsequent dialogue on their return to the National Museum of Greenland. The paper then moves on to discuss the basic principles on which the return was carried out – principles based on the desire to provide both national museums with representative collections, while at the same time acknowledge that certain items are of special importance to Greenlandic cultural identity, whereas others are essential to Danish museum history. Lastly this paper will argue that the Utimut experience reveals how repatriation doesn’t necessarily mark the end of relations. It actually holds the potential to do the exact opposite; form the basis for new and improved collaboration, which in this particular case includes joint archaeological and historical research projects, educational field schools and public outreach initiatives. The latest example being a new joint project, Activating Arctic Heritage (2019), which deals with Greenlandic UNESCO World Heritage Sites with a special focus on co-production of new cultural historical insights by researchers, local communities and other stakeholders.
Periode3 okt. 2019
BegivenhedstitelKulturens Hjemkomst / The Return of Culture: Konferanse om Bååstede-prosjektet og arbeidet for tilbakeføring av samisk kulturarv
PlaceringOslo, NorgeVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational