We’re Set to Return 72 Looted Benin Artefacts-Horniman Museum, UK

The Horniman Museum, London, said it is set to return 72 artefacts, including 12 brass plaques, otherwise known as Benin Bronzes.

The museum made the disclosure on Sunday following agreement to return to the Nigerian government, artefacts looted from Benin City by British soldiers in 1897.

The brass and bronze artefacts, dating back to the 16th century, represent some of Africa’s most culturally significant materials. They were seized, alongside other items, and carted away after a British military invasion and later wound up in museums across Europe and the United States.

Over the years, affected African countries have embarked on a concerted effort to retrieve the pillaged artefacts.

Among others, German authorities returned the first batch of about 1,100 of the priceless cultural materials to Nigeria last month. The return is sequel to last year’s returns by both the Jesus College at Cambridge University and the Quai Branly museum in Paris.

Horniman Museum said its decision to return the materials follows a request by Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, NCMM, at the beginning of the year for their return.

“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.

“The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step and we look forward to working with the NCMM to secure longer term care for these precious artefacts,” Chair of the Trustees of Horniman Museum and Gardens, Eve Salomon, said.

Director-General, NCMM, Abba Tijani, who welcomed Horniman’s decision to return the artefacts, noting that he looks forward to discussing loan agreements and collaborations with the institution.
Horniman’s gesture is expected put more pressure on the British Museum in London, said to holds the largest and most significant collection of Benin Bronzes.

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