The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, United States, has said it will return two Benin Bronze from its collection to its place of origin.
This move further boost the prospects of American museums to repatriate looted art pieces to the Governor Godwin Obaseki-backed Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA).
The two works to be returned are “Warrior Chief” and “Junior Court Official,” a pair of 16th-century brass plaques from the Oba Palace in Benin City.
The museum project is part of Governor Obaseki’s legacy for the state’s burgeoning arts and tourism space.
Director at the Met Museum, Max Hollein, in a statement, said, “The retention of these works within Nigeria’s National Collections is critical to the well-being of the museum community and to fostering ongoing cooperation and dialogue between The Met and our Nigerian counterparts.”
He added that the Museum was in support of the forthcoming Edo Museum of West African Art.
Erin L. Thompson, a Professor of Art Crime at John Jay College, said, “The Metropolitan is repatriating two artifacts stolen from Nigeria in the 20th century, but not the many other artifacts stolen from that territory in the 19th century in its collections.”
“These artifacts — key parts of the sacred and political workings of the Kingdom of Benin — were taken during an orgy of violence intended to steal not just the kingdom’s treasures, but the kingdom itself,” She added.