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Return of sculptures to India

At an event today with the Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, and the Indian Minister for Culture and Tourism, the Hon Dr Mahesh Sharma, the National Gallery of Australia formally returned two statues from its Asian art collection to the Government of India.  

The Australian Government welcomes the National Gallery’s decision to voluntarily remove these antique statues from its collection.

The decision to return the Goddess Pratyangira and Worshippers of the Buddha statues is the result of extensive research by the National Gallery into the provenance of its Asian art collection.

The National Gallery is to be commended for showing leadership in maintaining a collection that meets the highest ethical standards.

The statues have been significant items in the National Gallery’s Asian art collection and treated with the utmost care while in Australia, but as significant examples of India’s heritage, the statues will be returned.

Throughout its investigation, the National Gallery has worked closely with its Indian counterparts, developing strong and enduring relationships.

The work between our institutions and governments leading up to this return is a demonstration of Australia’s close relationship with India.

The bilateral relationship with India is robust, with more than 500,000 people of Indian origin studying, working and living in Australia.

In 2014 Australia and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cultural cooperation. An outcome of this MOU is the Festival of India in Australia which is showcasing India’s arts and culture across Australia until November 2016.

Media contact: Luisa Anderson | 0417 309 812 | Luisa.Anderson [at] communications.gov.au