Europe’s Largest Museums to “Loan” Looted Benin (Nigerian) Artifacts back to Nigeria

Queen from Benin kingdom
Cast Bronze figurine from Benin City at the MET museum

Unbelievable! I had to share this article about European museums loaning looted African artifacts back to Africans. It sounds so mind-boggling! How can someone steal from you, steal your cultural work, the work of your ancestors, your sweat, and then several years later loan it back to you, not even return it? and they call that progress! For the entire article, go to  Europe’s Largest Museums Will Loan Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria and What do you know about Africa’s looted art treasures.


Major museums across Europe have agreed to loan important artifacts back to Nigeria for a new museum the country plans to open in 2021. The African nation’s Royal Museum will house a rotating display of artifacts, including the Benin bronzes that were looted during the Benin Expedition of 1897. The agreement marks a significant step after years of negotiations among European institutions and Nigerian authorities.

Art from Benin kingdom (18th century)
Benin City art exposed at the MET Museum, NYC

… Together, museum leaders from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Britain agreed to facilitate a display at the planned institution within three years. Further specifics—including which objects will be loaned over what period of time—have yet to be confirmed.

… The objects in question were looted by the British army during a so-called “punitive expedition” in 1897. The army took around 4,000 intricate sculptures, including bronze works now known as the Benin bronzes, from the king’s palace in the former Kingdom of Benin.

A century later, the vast majority of these bronzes have ended up in some of the world’s most important museums, including the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. …

Benin City-Cast_brass_plaques_from_Benin_City_at_British_Museum-1024x721
Cast brass plaques from Benin City at the British Museum. Photo: Andreas Praefcke

12 thoughts on “Europe’s Largest Museums to “Loan” Looted Benin (Nigerian) Artifacts back to Nigeria

  1. mmandlakazi

    The usual arrogance of Europeans continues. All they’ve done is kill, steal, and destroy our continent and no one has ever called them to account and pay back. Hence this sort of appalling behaviour to loan back stolen artifacts to us. It’s about time the citizens of Africa call them to order; clearly our government are still acting like slaves to former slave masters and tiptoeing around them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes mmandlakazi… our governments are still acting like slaves to former slave masters… the effrontery of wanting to loan us our own art makes my blood boil.
      It’s because we, Africans, do not have power, economic power that they Europeans can go around not paying, not apologizing, etc… Until we become strong like China, they will keep at it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loan? NO! This should be a full on retrieval. It’s situations like this that only prove Killmonger right in Black Panther (Thanks for correcting me about the Benin/Dahomey/Nigeria confusion in that other post a while ago). All these African countries should get a full-on reclamation of these artifacts that are rightfully theirs. I was even inspired to record three songs unified by this theme.


      1. Yes, and it’s something I’ve become passionate about. I’ve recorded two of the three songs in that particular cycle, but I have to finish the album first. Also, I’ve got a song that deals with Cameroonian music and I have you to thank for inspiring me that particular poem-turned-song.


      2. No problem. What you told me about Cameroonian music or rather a certain unsavory trend against artists from your home country made way too much sense with the overall concept of my upcoming album. Speaking of which, I recently bought Tim & Foty’s album on Bandcamp and it’s the one with their “Douala by Night” song. Yes…the same one Missy Elliott stole for the song “Dog in Heat”.


      3. You’re certainly welcome. I’m happy the both of us can learn about different things. You’ve helped me learn about African culture and history since I discovered your blog.


  3. Pingback: Ospreyshire Origins: Art Theft series (Benin, Nigeria, Senegal) | Ospreyshire's Realm

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