Smithsonian to repatriate remains of Filipinos who were exhibited at 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair
Washington’s Smithsonian Institution announced it would repatriate the remains of 64 Filipinos it unethically acquired from 1904-1941 for anthropological research to support the racist belief white people are superior to non-whites.
Among the remains are the brains of three or four Filipinos who died after they were displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. The brains were collected to support the belief at the time that white people had larger brains.
“The [Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History] staff has had discussions with the Philippine embassy in [Washington] D.C. and met with the Philippine national museum staff to determine the path forward for repatriating the 64 individuals,” Smithsonian Institution Chief Spokesperson Linda St. Thomas said in an email to Indonesia’s BenarNews.
The Smithsonian said that the human remains were acquired without consent “and in ways that are not consistent with modern standards.”
The mostly indigenous Filipinos were brought to the United States for the St. Louis World Fair when the Philippines was still a U.S. colony. The 64 individuals died during the exposition, or had chosen to remain in the U.S. after.
The Smithsonian said it had placed temporary restrictions on research on all human remains in its museums and the acquisition of any additional remains while that policy was being developed.