Back in May, we shared how Germany plans to return its collection of the Benin Bronzes to their home country of Nigeria this year. The Met Museum has announced it will follow suit and return two brass plaques, also part of the Benin Bronzes, to their rightful owners.
The Benin Bronzes refers to a large collection of West African art and has long stood as a symbol of the vast amount of art looted from Africa during colonization. Debates have been going on for years about their restitution, but not, countries are finally acknowledging their responsibility to return the stolen works. Although these are only two of the estimated 160 artifacts the Met has from Benin City, it is a good starting place for restitutions.
The two plaques to be returned, called “Warrior Chief” and “Junior Court Official,” date back to the 16th century and were looted from Benin City, what is now Nigeria, in 1897. The plaques will be given to Abba Isa Tijani, director general of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, when he next visits New York City. They will likely find a new home at the Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City.