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US Museum Returns Stolen Benin, Ife Artefacts To Nigeria



US Museum Returns Stolen Benin, Ife Artefacts To Nigeria

Three stolen Benin and Ife artefacts have been returned to the Nigerian Government by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in the United States.

Naija News reports that the artefacts are two 16th-century Benin brass plaques and one 14th-century Ife brass head.

The museum’s Director, Maz Hollein, returned the artefacts to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in New York on Wednesday.

Receiving the artefacts, NCMM Director-General, Abba Tijjani and the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York, Lot Egopija, commended the museum for returning the artefacts to Nigeria.

He called for collaboration between MET and NCMM on exhibition, scholarship and capacity building of staff and getting required curators.

Tijjani, however, asked other museums in possession of Nigerian artefacts to follow MET’s exemplary gesture.

He said: “We are looking forward to collaborating with the MET because we cannot exist on an island, for example, the museum cannot be working in Nigeria without collaborating with partners outside the country.

“So, we are looking forward to collaborating with MET now that we are friends and we understand each other and we want to see how we can work together.

“We have about 52 museums across the country under the commission, and we have 65 monuments and sites and staff working in the museums will require modern training.

“Nigeria is very passionate about the way it exhibits its artefacts and we feel that it will be good if we collaborate and rob minds when it comes to joint exhibitions.

“There is a need for us to exhibit our works in a way that we understand it and we want people to understand these artefacts too.

Also speaking, the MET director said the shared commitment to future exchanges of programmes would form part of the MoU.

He said: “We have we had long-lasting relationships, the museum is committed to a responsible process in collaborating in areas of standards as well as to study works that have been in our collection.

“It’s an ongoing effort to learn to exchange and to find the right solutions.”

Hollein said MET will be pleased to initiate the return of Nigeria’s works and remain “committed to transparency and the responsible collecting of cultural property”.

Ige Olugbenga is a fine-grained journalist. He loves the smell of a good lead and has a penchant for finding out something nobody else knows.