African artefacts in Western museums to return home

Numerous artefacts from the African continent remain in the custody of Western museums. Colonial expansion of the west across the African continent between 1890-1980 led to the removal of a great number of ancient African artefacts, artwork and relics, which have been displayed in museums in Europe, such as the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadero, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in USA since their removal.

European museums will at a European summit, as part of the Benin Collective, discuss the return of looted artefacts such as the Benin Bronzes and the Okukor with African stakeholders. Currently, the largest collection lies in the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.

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The Guardian reports: “The British Museum will take part in a European summit to discuss the return of art seized from the Benin kingdom, now part of southern Nigeria, by a British punitive expedition in 1897 as ‘reparations’ after it defied the British Empire by imposing customs duties.”

Museums taking part in the Benin dialogue hope to have a permanent exhibition in Benin City, southern Nigeria, home to the Benin City National Museum. The stakeholders are set to meet at the Netherlands’ National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden in 2018.

Two points of discussion will be around insurance costs and the safety of the artefacts. The parties, which will include European and West African curators, will also discuss a legal framework that will ensure the artefacts remain immune to seizure in Nigeria, the article reported.

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