Missing Indian artifacts loaned to Science Center returned to family

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by Sarah Heath

Missing Indian artifacts loaned to Science Center returned to family

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 6:57 PM

 (KMOV) – Millions of dollars in Indian artifacts have been missing for years but News 4 was there as the owner was able to search the place he believed they’ve been hiding.

The artifacts were reportedly loaned to the St. Louis Science Center but later returned years ago. The owner was given the opportunity to prove that is wrong.

Kevin Airis allowed News 4’s Russell Kinsaul to follow along as he searched the Taylor Community Science Resource Center.

Airis’s family amassed a multi-million dollar collection of Indian artifacts and in 1974 loaned the collection to the Natural History Museum which is now known as the St. Louis Science Center.

In 2007, Airis asked for the artifacts to be returned but only got eleven out of the fifty items back.

For six years, the museum maintained that all items had been returned to the Airis Family and that they had none of them. During that time, they also refused to let Kevin look for himself until recently.

“When I first got here, they weren’t going to show me everything but after a little more discussions, she decided she was going to show me everything,” Airis said.

He spent hours checking drawers and displays and found good and bad news.

“There’s about 40 items that are missing still. How many here today are yours? Three, four, probably six items so far,” Airis said.

It turned out the Science Center’s records were sloppy, incomplete and wrong. Thursday’s discover was a small victory for Airis.

“I’m really excited about this. I hope it’s a new beginning for the Science Center and that they are going to turn toward an open and honest policy,” Airis added.

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