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Easter Island moai in the British Museum

In November 1868, the crew of a British ship took two moai (first Moai Hava and then Hoa Hakananai'a) from Easter Island. Hoa Hakananai'a is prominently displayed in the British Museum. Moai Hava is not on view but has been temporarily loaned to several other museums and collections in the UK. These sculpted statues are not made of volcanic tuff as are most others which makes them quite special. They are made of hard basalt.

Called Rapa Nui by its inhabitants, Easter Island is a chilean dependency located in the remote eastern Pacific Ocean and is renowned for the hundreds of huge monoliths dotting the landscape. The Rapanui community recognizes them as representations of their ancestors.

There have been longstanding demands for the return of these iconic carvings, but a recent social media campaign started by Chilean activists is flooding the British Museum with posts to return the moai.


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