The V&A Museum to Exhibit Ancient Yemeni Carved Stones

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London will be showcasing four ancient carved stones that were discovered in an interior design shop by an archaeology enthusiast. These stone faces are believed to have been looted from elaborate tombs in Yemen. In a historic agreement with the Republic of Yemen, the V&A will conduct research and provide temporary care for these funerary stelae.

The stones were recovered by the Metropolitan Police’s art and antiques unit, which investigates art theft, illegal trafficking, and fraud. The agreement between the museum and Yemen was signed by the director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, and Yassin Saeed Noman Ahmed, ambassador for the Republic of Yemen based in the UK.

As part of a new display at the V&A East Storehouse, the public will have the opportunity to see these ancient artifacts starting from 2025. The museum will assume responsibility for the care of the stelae temporarily until a decision is made regarding their safe return to Yemen.

These objects are of significant cultural value and are listed on the International Council of Museum’s emergency red list of cultural objects at risk. Tristram Hunt expressed his delight at the agreement, emphasizing that it allows the public to appreciate Yemeni culture and creativity while highlighting the V&A’s commitment to combating the illegal trade of looted objects and preserving cultural heritage worldwide.

By preserving and exhibiting these ancient carved stones, the V&A aims to protect cultural heritage and prevent the illicit trade of cultural artifacts. The stones will be displayed at the V&A East Storehouse, one of two new V&A East sites being constructed in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

This initiative not only allows the public to appreciate Yemeni culture but also contributes to the rebuilding of Yemeni society by ensuring the preservation of their cultural heritage. The V&A’s Culture in Crisis program, which was established in 2015, works closely with law enforcement worldwide to curb the illegal trade of looted objects.

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