The MFA’s collection includes works of ancient art from around the world, in particular from the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the Near East; Asia and Southeast Asia; and Central and South America. It has long been recognized that antiquities and archeological material are at high risk for illicit excavation and smuggling. The MFA deplores the looting of archeological sites and the trafficking of cultural property, and pays particular attention to the provenance of its ancient works of art. These pages provide information on the research the MFA has conducted on its antiquities, and the ownership resolutions reached between the Museum and foreign nations for illicit cultural property.

Malian Antiquities

On February 8, 2022, the MFA reached an agreement with the Republic of Mali, transferring ownership of two objects of Malian origin that are believed to have been the subject of illicit excavation and trafficking.

Nigerian Antiquities

In June 2014, the MFA reached an agreement with the National Commission of Museums and Monuments, Nigeria (NCMM), transferring to the Commission eight antiquities of Nigerian origin that were believed to have been the subject of illicit trafficking.

Weary Herakles

On September 22, 2011, the MFA and the Republic of Turkey finalized an agreement transferring ownership of the 2nd century, Roman Imperial sculpture Weary Herakles to the Turkish government.

Italian Ministry of Culture Agreement

On Thursday, September 28, 2006, the MFA transferred 13 antiquities to Italy and signed an agreement with the Italian Ministry of Culture marking the beginning of a new era of cultural exchange.