A museum in Philadelphia apologized on Monday for collecting the skulls of Black Americans and vowed to return them to their respective communities. Dr. Christopher Woods, the director of the Penn Museum, expressed regret in a statement on behalf of the museum and the University of Pennsylvania of Archaeology and Anthropology for the "unethical possession of human remains."
"It is time for these individuals to be returned to their ancestral communities, wherever possible, as a step toward atonement and repair for the racist and colonial practices that were integral to the formation of these collections," Woods said. He also said they will reassess their practices of collecting, stewarding, displaying and researching humans. Woods said the museum is now working with local communities to "understand their wishes for repatriation" for the remains belonging to Black Philadelphians within the Samuel G. Morton Cranial collection. Following the George Floyd protests, the Penn Museum removed the skulls from the public view last July.