Met Museum Announces Return of Two Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

The Metropolitan Museum of Art introduced on Wednesday that it deliberate to return two brass plaques from its assortment, half of the group of West African artifacts often called the Benin Bronzes, to Nigeria, making it the most recent establishment to pursue repatriation of the looted works.

It has additionally brokered the return of a 3rd object — a brass head produced within the metropolis of Ife across the 14th century — that had been supplied to the museum on the market.

“The Met is pleased to have initiated the return of these works and is committed to transparency and the responsible collecting of cultural property,” the museum stated in a press release.

The two 16th-century brass plaques, “Warrior Chief” and “Junior Court Official,” had been created on the Court of Benin.

They are half of a set of artifacts that the British military looted in an 1897 raid on Benin City, in what’s now Nigeria, that are actually scattered via museums and personal collections world wide.

The plaques had been housed within the British Museum after which the National Museum in Lagos. “Although they were never deaccessioned by the National Museum,” the Met stated in a press release, “the two plaques entered the international art market at an unknown date and under unclear circumstances and were eventually acquired by a New York collector.”

In 1991, the collector gave his Benin works to the Met.

The Met, which has some 160 gadgets from Benin City, together with a famend ivory masks, in its assortment, stated it initiated the return after conducting analysis in partnership with the British Museum over the previous 12 months. The works within the Met’s assortment “were largely given to the institution in the 1970s and 1990s by individuals who acquired them on the art market,” a spokesman informed The New York Times in April.

“Junior Court Official,” the second plaque from the Met. The museum additionally brokered the return of a brass head that had been supplied to it on the market.Credit…Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kenneth Weine, a spokesman for the Met, stated the masks was not being thought-about for return, although he didn’t present a motive.

The Met has deaccessioned the plaques and can ship them to the director common of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abba Isa Tijani, when he’s in a position to journey to New York City, the museum stated in a press release.

They will probably be displayed within the deliberate Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City, which is being designed by the architect David Adjaye. The museum’s present goal is to open in 2025, although the timeline has been pushed again a number of instances.

Despite their identify, many of the bronzes are literally made out of ivory, brass and wooden. While Europe’s museums have had discussions with Nigeria for years, American establishments have solely just lately begun to act on the bronzes of their collections.

“Nigeria enjoins other museums to take a cue from this,” Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of info and tradition of Nigeria, stated in a press release. “The art world can be a better place if every possessor of cultural artifacts considers the rights and feelings of the dispossessed.”