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German officials said they had reached an agreement with Nigeria to restore their share of the robbed antiquities known as Benin Bronxes.
Thousands of shields and figurines were plundered from the ancient Kingdom of Benin – now southern Nigeria, not present-day Benin – by British soldiers in the 1897 raid and finally a sectional museum. The big ones have come from Europe and the United States.
Over the past decade, an association group called the Benin Dialogue Group has been working to repatriate these works and set up permanent exhibits in Benin in collaboration with museums in Germany and other European countries, German officials announced. On Thursday they will work with Nigeria on a partial return to Benin Bronxes plans for next year.
“Participants agreed that dealing with Germany’s former colonies was an important issue for the entire society and a primary mission for cultural policy,” they wrote in a joint press release.
German officials aim to return their first Benin Bronxes next year and will reveal more specific plans and schedules by this summer. They said they “They confirm their intentions in principle to provide substantial return” of their antiques. But leave the door open to keep some pieces
“The consultation with the Nigerian partners doesn’t just cover the rewards and cooperation programs in Nigeria. But also Benin Bronxes, which is part of humanity’s cultural heritage in the future? ”They said.
Authorities say many German museums are in the possession of the Benin Bronxes. They invited people who were not part of the Benin Dialogue Group to join in their efforts.
There are more of these historical objects scattered around the world than in their home countries, according to author Dan Hicks.He told Art News that 45 institutions in the UK and 38 in the United States hold Benin Bronzes compared to just 9 locations in Nigeria
Berlin’s Ethnographic Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of artifacts from the ancient kingdom, according to The Associated Press.The inventory is estimated to contain 530 items, including 440 bronze and about 900 such artifacts. The piece is only kept in the British Museum.
Activists are calling for more cultural institutions to repatriate their own Benin Bronxes, widely viewed as a symbol of colonial conquest – to Nigeria, although few do so. that
The French state promised two years ago to return 26 such artifacts back to the country by 2021, but as Art News reported this month, no one has left the country permanently.
And while the British government says institutions should Some of the UK’s museums “preserve and describe” the antiquity, according to the Guardian.
Scotland’s University of Aberdeen announced last month it would return a bust it had acquired in 1950, citing ethical concerns.
“Our committee concluded this was a gift, so we didn’t feel we were virtuous,” said Neil Curtis, head of the University of Aberdeen’s Museum and Special Collections.
The next Benin Dialogue Group meeting will be on May 27.