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V&A offers Ethiopia ‘long-term loan’ of looted Magdala artefacts

An exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of the siege and battle opens at the museum on Thursday.

The Victoria & Albert Museum (John Walton/PA)

Treasures including a solid gold crown and chalice looted during the British invasion of Ethiopia could be returned to the African nation.

Ethiopians have campaigned for the return of the plunder since it was seized during the British expedition to the country – then Abyssinia – in 1868.

An exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum marking the 150th anniversary of the siege and battle at Magdala will feature a number of the objects.

Speaking ahead of the show’s opening on Thursday, the museum’s director, Tristram Hunt, told the Art Newspaper he would “stand ready to assist” should Ethiopia wish to consider a long-term loan of the items.

“The speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan … that would be the easiest way to manage it,” Mr Hunt told the Guardian.

Other Magdala items are found in the British Museum, British Library and Windsor Castle, according to Afromet, the Association for the Return of the Magdala Ethiopian Treasures.

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