Home National museum Smithsonian National Museum returns 29 bronzes stolen from Benin to Nigeria

Smithsonian National Museum returns 29 bronzes stolen from Benin to Nigeria


The National Commission of Museums and Monuments of Nigeria has received 29 of the Benin Bronzes stolen from the Smithsonian National Museum

The bronzes were part of the museum’s collection, were stolen from Nigeria during the 1897 British raid on Benin City.

According to a report obtained from https://www.si.edunewsdesk.com, the transfer of ownership was formalized in a ceremony at the National Museum of African Art on Tuesday, October 11, held in conjunction with the National Gallery of Art, which returned the Beninese bronze from its collection.

The report reads: “Not only was returning ownership of these magnificent artifacts to their rightful home the right thing to do, it also shows how we all benefit from cultural institutions making ethical choices,” said Lonnie Bunch, Smithsonian secretary.

“Sharing knowledge and stewardship with home communities will help us better understand and preserve important cultural heritage like the Benin Bronzes and illuminate it for future generations in the United States and around the world. .”

The secretary was joined at the ceremony by Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art; Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art; Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture of Nigeria; and Prince Aghatise Erediauwa, representing the oba, or ruler, of the Kingdom of Benin.

“Nigeria is extremely pleased with the commendable decision of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design to return these objects which left Africa more than a year ago. a century,” Mohammed said. “Nigeria looks forward to working with these institutions on joint exhibitions and other educational exchanges. By returning the artefacts, these institutions together write new pages of history. Their courageous decision to return the timeless works of art deserves to be emulated.

The return of these bronzes from Benin is the first return under the Smithsonian’s new ethical return policy announced this spring. This policy authorizes Smithsonian Museums to return collections to the originating community based on ethical considerations, such as how and under what circumstances the objects were originally acquired.