Mon, 26 Sep 2022

UK agrees to return museum pieces taken from Nigeria

Robert Besser
10 Aug 2022, 21:52 GMT+10

LONDON, England: Following a request by Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the Horniman Museum in London has agreed to return 72 artifacts from the Kingdom of Benin to the Nigerian government.

The artifacts, which were taken from Nigeria in the 19th century, include 12 brass plaques, known as the Benin Bronzes, a brass rooster and a key to the king's palace.

According to the museum, it has consulted with academics, heritage professionals and artists based in Nigeria and the UK.

Political pressure has been placed on European governments and museums to hand back artifacts, including ivory carvings and metal sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes, in recent years.
"The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria," said Eve Salomon, chair of the museum, as quoted by the BBC.

"The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step and we look forward to working with Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments to secure longer-term care for these precious artifacts," she added.

Artifacts at other western museums have also been returned to Nigeria in the last few months.

In July, Jesus College in Cambridge and Aberdeen University gave back a rooster sculpture and the head of a king, while German authorities have returned more than 1,100 artifacts.

According to the Nigerians, some of the priceless sculptures will be stored at the museum in Lagos, and others in the national museum in Benin.

The British Museum, which holds the world's largest collection of Benin bronzes, said it is prevented from permanently returning items by the British Museum Act of 1963 and the National Heritage Act of 1983.

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