County Museum Returning 1,157 Cultural Artifacts To Mexico

San Bernardino County will turn over to the Mexican Consulate in the county seat more than 1,100 artifacts and items now in the possession of the county museum.

Next Tuesday, April 25, the board of supervisors is set to consider a proposal by David Myers, the director of the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands, that 1,57 objects be transferred into the custody of the Mexican government.

In a formal report to the board of supervisors postdated to April 25, Myers said he wanted the board’s permission to “transfer cultural objects affiliated with Mexico.”

According to Myers, “The museum proposes the transfer of 1,157 cultural objects, captured by 825 records, to the Government of Mexico via the Consulate of Mexico in San Bernardino. The material has substantial cultural significance to Mexico cultural patrimony and the objects are attributed to traditional and ancestral Mexican practices. In July 2021, the Museum approached the Consulate, requesting the potential repatriation of Mexican cultural objects in an act of good faith and relationship building. This transfer conforms to the museum’s collection management policy, approved by the board of supervisors on February 14, 2017, which allows for deaccessioning and transfer when ‘another institution is in a better position to care for the object.’ The transfer also conforms to the museum standards as an accredited museum to ensure that museum collections stewardship respects and acknowledges the cultural traditions and beliefs of nations and/or tribes whose artifacts and ethnographic objects have been housed at the museum.”

The Mexican Consulate is located at 293 North D Street in San Bernardino, across the street from the now shuttered San Bernardino City Hall and the still-active Vanir Tower.

Myers told the board, “The museum believes the Instituto Nacional de Arqueología e Historia (INAH, a federal branch) is best suited to manage the cultural material generated by its community and recommend[s] repatriation to the Mexican community. The consulate has a relationship with the Instituto Nacional de Arqueología e Historia, subject matter experts in archives and collections management. Instituto Nacional de Arqueología e Historia is a federal organization, founded in 1939, to guarantee the research, conservation, and protection of the archaeological and historical heritage of Mexico. In addition, Instituto Nacional de Arqueología e Historia oversees all archaeological sites and most of the museums in Mexico. This demonstrates the internal capabilities of Instituto Nacional de Arqueología e Historia in resuming the care of these objects or finding the appropriate place inside their museum system, as their government has amply illustrated both a robust and technically sound program of heritage stewardship.”

According to Myers, “Costs related to packaging objects in archival quality material will be below $2,000 and will be paid from the museum budget. There will be substantial long-term savings realized in future years because the San Bernardino County Museum’s collections care, conservation, and storage of these sensitive artifacts will no longer be necessary.”

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