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Foto: Monique Kooijmans (Allard Pierson).

All objects from Crimean exhibition back in Ukraine

Dirk Wolthekker,
27 november 2023 - 17:32

All remaining museum objects from the exhibition The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea have been transferred to Ukraine by the Allard Pierson. They have been returned to the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in Kyiv.


The objects, which had been borrowed from museums in Crimea in 2014, arrived in Kyiv yesterday. This put an end to years of legal wrangling on Dutch soil between Ukraine and Russia.


In 2014, the exhibition The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea, featuring objects from museums in Crimea, opened at the Allard Pierson. During the exhibition, Crimea was annexed by Russia. After the exhibition ended, the museum was confronted with the question of where to return the objects: to the (now Russian) Crimea or to Ukraine? Both states laid claim to the objects, with the result that the Allard Pierson did not feel free to make a choice in this complex legal question.


Years of litigation followed, during which time the extremely rare and precious objects were stored in the Allard Pierson's vault. Last June, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that Allard Pierson must return the art treasures to the State of Ukraine and not to four museums in Crimea, where the pieces originally came from.



Last month, the objects were independently inspected and carefully packed according to museum rules. They were then transported to Kyiv, where they arrived on November 26th, so all the disputed objects have now been returned. “This has been a special case in which cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical developments,” said Els van der Plas, Director of the Allard Pierson. “After it became clear in 2014 that the court would look into the case, we focused on storing the objects safely until the time came to return them to their rightful owner.”