Since the removal of the first moai Hoa Hakananai'a from Easter Island in 1869 by the crew of HMS Topaze, 79 complete moai, heads, torsos, Pukao, and moai figurines are also known to have been removed from their original sites, and transferred to either private collections,[1]the collections of museums (including the Museo Arqueological Padre Sebastian Englert on Easter Island),[2] or, most recently to the university grounds of the American University, Washington D.C. in 2000. [3] Some of the moai have been further transferred between museums and private collections, for reasons such as the moais' preservation, academic research and for public education, or - in the instance of the Moai from Centro Cultural Recoleta - for repatriation after 80 years overseas. [4]

Objects in museum collectionsEditar

The following table lists the most prominent figures held in museums and collections:

Object Material Height Current location Acquisition Date Reference [5] Notes Image
Moai Basalt 3m Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, Belgium. 1934-35 ET.35.5.340 or Pou hakanononga Removed by the Lavachery, Metraux and Watelin expedition.

Unnamed Moai Rapa nui Removed from Hanga Roa in 1929 spent 40 years in Santiago, Chile before being transported to Argentina and making a round trip to the Netherlands. It was returned to Rapa Nui in 2006.[6]
Moai Tuff 2.94m Salón de la Polinesia, Museo arqueologico, La Serena, Chile. Displayed in Europe, then moved to the Salón de la Polinesia[1][2]
Moai Tuff 2.81m Corporacion Museo de Arqueologia e Historia Francisco Fonck, Viña del Mar, Chile. 1174 (EISP# MF-VDM-001)
Head Basalt Corporacion Museo de Arqueologia e Historia Francisco Fonck, Viña del Mar, Chile. 35-001 (EISP# MF-VDM-002)
Moai Tuff 2.88m Museo Arqueological Padre Sebastian Englert, Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui. MA-IDP025
Head Tuff 2m (approx) Museo Arqueological Padre Sebastian Englert, Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui. c. 2006 Moai from Centro Cultural Recoleta.
Pukau Red scoria Museo Arqueological Padre Sebastian Englert, Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui. c. 2006 Pukao from Centro Cultural Recoleta.
Head Tuff 1.85m Musee de l'Homme, Paris, France. 1872 MH.30.35.1
Head Tuff 1.70m Pavillon des Sessions, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. c. 1934-35 MH.35.61.1 Presented to the Chilean government by Henri Lavachery and Alfred Metraux for the Musée de l'Homme after their expedition to Rapa Nui, in 1934-35.
Archivo:Moai Easter Island InvMH-35-61-1.jpg
Head Red scoria 42cm Pavillon des Sessions, Musée du Louvre, or the Musee de l'Homme, Paris, France. c. 1934-35 MH.35.61.66
Head Basalt 58.5cm Auckland Museum, Auckland, New Zealand. AM12768
Moai Trachyte 1.6m Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand. 1929 D29.6066 Bought by the museum in 1929 from Norman Brander[7]
Moai Basalt 2.42m The British Museum, London, UK. 7 November, 1868 1869.10-5.1 Hoa Hakananai'a see article Hoa Hakananai'a
Archivo:Moai, British Museum London.jpg
Moai Basalt 1.56m The British Museum, London, UK. 7 November, 1868 1869.10-6.1 Moai Hava
Moai Basalt 2.24m National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., USA. 1886 128,368 (EISP# SI-WDC-001) Removed from Ahu O'Pepe.
Archivo:Moai SI-WDC-001 Smithsonian Washington.jpg
Head Tuff 19.4cm National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., USA. 1886 128,370 (EISP# SI-WDC-002) Removed from Ahu O'Pepe.
Pukao Red scoria 101.6cm National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., USA. 1886 128,369 (EISP# SI-WDC-003) Removed from Ahu O'Pepe.
Moai. 2m (approx) The American University, Washington D.C, USA. 2000 Moai at the American University Presented in 2000 by the Embassy of Chile as a gift to The American University. The Moai displays a pair of reconstructed eyes.[8][9]

Issues of authenticityEditar

An unauthenticated moai head entitled "Henry" currently stands in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California. It was obtained in the first half of the 20th century by the founder of the park Dr. Hubert Eaton. Dr. Eaton received the moai in a legal transaction between Rapanui fishermen at Easter Island who were using the head (approx 1m height) as ballast for a boat.[10] The Memorial Park has no plans for authenticating or testing the moai in the near future.

In 2003, the Chilean government began an investigation into 2 moai heads within a set of 15 other Easter Island artefacts[11]- the possessions of Hernan Garcia de Gonzalo Vidal - which were put on sale at The Cronos gallery in Miami. After a photographic inspection by Patricia Vargas, an archaeologist at the University of Chile's Easter Island institute, she commented that ""They might be nice art pieces, but I doubt any one is 500 years old. It appears that the cuts have been made with modern machinery and not with stone tools." A meeting arranged between the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio which first reported the sale, and Hernan Garcia Gonzalo de Vidal, later failed to take place when Mr Gonzalo de Vidal became unavailable due to a "family emergency".[12]


In 1968, a moai (possibly Moai 35-001) was taken from Rapa Nui and displayed in New York City as a publicity stunt to oppose the building of a jet refueling facility on Easter Island.[13][14][15]Around the time of the campaign and the following tour to Washington D.C. and Chicago, the moai was received by the Lippincott company of North Haven, Connecticut, which since its inception in 1966 had provided a "place for artists to create large sculptures and receive help in transportation and installation of their work"[16]. In co-operation with the International Fund for Monuments Inc, Lippincott produced a copy from the original moai (before it was confiscated by the Chilean government) and claimed the rights to execute the work on 100 further replicas.

In 1974, Object No. 3 was produced from the copy, and now stands outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.

See alsoEditar

Notes and ReferencesEditar

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