In a momentous occasion, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science officially committed to returning 30 vigango (carved memorial statues) to the Republic of Kenya yesterday. The statues will be initially stored at the National Museums of Kenya, which has agreed to facilitate the statues’ return to their source communities. Denver and Nairobi are part of the Sister Cities Program, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the City and County of Denver welcomed the opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the communities and to promote deeper respect of cultural values.
As Dr. Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Curator of Anthropology at the Museum said, “This was a long and difficult process, but it was worth it. Museum stewardship today is not just about things but also people, and not just about preserving static cultural objects but also contributing to the cultural survival of living communities.”
The ceremony included Mayor Michael B. Hancock, City and County of Denver, Colorado; City Councilman Albus Brooks, City and County of Denver, Colorado; Ambassador Jean Njeri Kamau, Charge D’Affaires a.i., Republic of Kenya; Honorable Alex Ole Magelo, Speaker, Nairobi City County Assembly; Honorable Elias Otieno, Leader of the Majority, Nairobi City County Assembly; and George Sparks, President and CEO, Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance closed out the ceremony on a celebratory note.