New York Museum Returns 3 Artworks Looted from Nigeria
In a western bid to compensate for their colonization of Africa, the New York Met Museum returned three artworks to Nigeria, which were looted under British rule.
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returned Monday three artworks looted from Nigeria under the British colonial rule of the African nation.
Museums in countries exploited by western nations over the past centuries have been making increasing efforts to repatriate treasures stolen from their land by colonizers.
The artworks returned to Nigeria are two 16th-century brass plaques and a 14th-century brass head from the Kingdom of Benin, which is now part of modern-day Nigeria.
The British occupation had stolen the artifacts from the Nigerian Royal palace in 1897. They then moved them to the British Museum in London until 1950, when the United Kingdom repatriated them.
Following their return to the National Museum in Lagos, the artifacts re-entered the art market, eventually ending up in the hands of a private investor, who then donated them to the Met in 1991, where they were exhibited until now.
Nigeria had made efforts in early October to retrieve artworks looted by Britain by offering them a piece of his own making in return for looted artworks. Britain then accepted his artwork without repatriating any artifacts.
On Monday, the transfer of the artwork was confirmed at a signing in New York by Met director Max Hollein and Aba Isa Tijani, the director-general of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria.
Tijani, quoted in the release, congratulated the Met "for the transparency it has shown" with Nigeria's minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, calling on "other museums to take a cue from this" decision.
"The art world can be a better place if every possessor of cultural artifacts considers the rights and feelings of the dispossessed," Mohammed said.
"The Met is pleased to have initiated the return of these works and is committed to transparency and the responsible collecting of cultural property," Hollein claimed after his museum exhibited these stolen treasures for some 30 years.
The restitution of stolen artworks in Africa by colonial armies has affected institutions across the western world who had been reaping the benefits of the work of others, which it is no stranger to.
Earlier this month, Benin welcomed back nearly 30 royal treasures looted from the West African state during France's colonial rule more than 130 years ago.
Hopes for retrieving stolen treasures and artifacts from the west have risen throughout Africa, colonialism's most affected country in terms of looted artifacts.