Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum

The Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum is a museum in the town of Hanga Roa on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in Chilean Polynesia. Named for the Bavarian missionary, Fr. Sebastian Englert, OFM Cap., the museum was founded in 1973 and is dedicated to the conservation of the Rapa Nui cultural patrimony.

Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum
Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert
Museo Sebastian Englert.JPG
LocationHanga Roa
 Isla de Pascua
Coordinates27°08′14″S 109°25′27″W / 27.13722°S 109.42417°W / -27.13722; -109.42417Coordinates: 27°08′14″S 109°25′27″W / 27.13722°S 109.42417°W / -27.13722; -109.42417
TypeArchaeological and ethnographic
Collection size15,000
DirectorPaula Valenzuela Contreras
CuratorFrancisco Torres Hochstetter
Pelayo Tucki Make (former)

The museum is administered by the Chilean National Service of Cultural Heritage [es] (Spanish: Servicio Nacional del Patrimonio Cultural, SNPC), and houses the William Mulloy Library.


Museum grounds

The museum was founded in 1973 and is named after Sebastian Englert, who also recorded the language and culture of the island.[1] As part of his research he formed a large collection of objects relating to his work, which ultimately formed the foundation of the museum's collection.[2]


The museum collection contains approximately 15,000 objects. These include items collected by Sebastian Englert, as well as the archives of decades of archaeological investigation.[2] Archaeological material also includes human remains from excavations on the island.[3] The museum houses the only female mo‘ai, as well as one of the coral eyes that were placed in the mo‘ai.[1] There are obsidian stone tools,[4] wood statuettes, ancient fish hooks, as well as a photographic collection and archives of traditional music.[1][5] The museum also includes displays of rongorongo glyphs.[6]

Natural science collections are also part of the work of the museum. One significant aspect of the zoological collections are the bones of cetaceans there, including two blue whale vertebra.[7]

The William Mulloy Library forms part of museum and is an extensive collection of scientific literature about the island.[1]

Objects in overseas collectionsEdit

Due legacies of colonial extraction from Rapa Nui, as well as the work of international researchers on the island, objects that are culturally significant are held in museums around the world. The University of Wyoming Art Museum holds a collection that was constituted by William Mulloy Jr. who was a former anthropologist at the university. It comprises of 180 small sculptures carved from a variety of materials, including volcanic rock, stone and wood.[8] There are over 70 mo'ai in overseas collections, including at the British Museum, Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History, and other institutions.[9]

Gallery of objects in overseas collectionsEdit


Human remainsEdit

Since 2013 there has been independent program of repatriation and reburial of ivi tupana (human remains). This program is led by members of the Rapa Nui community in collaboration with researchers and the museum.[10] In the context of Rapa Nui and repatriation, human remains are not considered property of the Chilean state and must be returned directly to communities.[10]

Kon-Tiki voyage materialEdit

In 2019 the government of Norway and Chile signed an agreement to enable the return of cultural artefacts and human remains that were taken as part of Thor Heyerdahl's research between the 1950s and 1980s. The returned objects are to be transferred to the museum collection.[11][12]


In 2006 Chilean artist Rosa Velasco organised the repatriation of the mo'ai that she had inherited from her father.[9] In 2018 the government of New Zealand repatriated two mo'ai, from Te Papa Museum and Otago Museum.[13] On display at the British Museum is Hoa Hakananai’a, a mo'ai whose return to the Rapa Nui people was formally requested in 2019.[14] The British Museum reportedly agreed to a loan.[14]

Digital repatriationEdit

As part of the ongoing partnership to enable repatriation of the collections held at the University of Wyoming, a programme of digital repatriation was ongoing as of 2021. This programme involves the sharing of digital models and files of objects in the collection, with the goal of hosting simultaneous exhibitions in both museums, using the same materials in future.[15]

Gallery of objects subject to repatriation requestsEdit


In 2006 the museum was presented with an award from UNESCO for the "INFOLAC Web 2005 Contest, as the best museum on line with a scientific foundation".[16]


  1. ^ a b c d "Easter Island museum: Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum". www.easterisland.travel. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  2. ^ a b "Moai Culture Museo Antropologico P. Sebastian Englert". www.moaiculture.com. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  3. ^ "New insights into the marine contribution to ancient Easter Islanders' diet". Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 6: 709–719. 2016-04-01. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.09.013. ISSN 2352-409X.
  4. ^ "Easter Island people used sharpened stones as tools, not weapons". Science News. 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  5. ^ Pettan, Svanibor; Titon, Jeff Todd (2015). The Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-935170-1.
  6. ^ Johanson, Mark (2017-09-07). "Rare views on Rapa Nui: an Easter Island adventure". the Guardian. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  7. ^ Hucke Gaete, Rodrigo; Aguayo Lobo, Anelio; Yancovic Pakarati, Sebastian; Flores, Marcelo (2014-10-10). "Marine mammals of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and Salas y Gomez Island (Motu Motiro Hiva), Chile: a review and new records". Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research. 42 (4): 743–751. doi:10.3856/vol42-issue4-fulltext-5. ISSN 0718-560X.
  8. ^ "Beyond the Wall | News | University of Wyoming". www.uwyo.edu. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  9. ^ a b Aires, Buenos (2006-04-18). "Easter Island statue heads home". The Age. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  10. ^ a b Fforde, Cressida; McKeown, C. Timothy; Keeler, Honor (2020-03-05). The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Renew. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-39887-9.
  11. ^ "Norway museum to return thousands of Easter Island artefacts". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  12. ^ Solly, Meilan. "Norway Will Repatriate Thousands of Artifacts Taken From Easter Island". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  13. ^ "Repatriación indígena en el Museo Rapa Nui | Museo de Rapa Nui". www.museorapanui.gob.cl (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  14. ^ a b Solly, Meilan. "Norway Will Repatriate Thousands of Artifacts Taken From Easter Island". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  15. ^ Crawford, Nicole; Jackson, Darrell (2020). "Stealing Culture: Digital Repatriation (A Case Study)". University Museums and Collections Journal. Rochester, NY. 12 (2): 77–83.
  16. ^ "Noticias del Portal de la Cultura de América Latina y el Caribe". www.lacult.unesco.org. Retrieved 2021-09-04.

External linksEdit