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Benin Bronzes heading to museums in Edo State, Nigeria

The German, Nigerian and British governments are partnering on a museum centre in Nigeria’s Edo State to house returned Benin Bronzes.

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edo museum of west african art

The German, Nigerian and British governments are collaborating on a project to build a hub of museums in Edo State to showcase returned Benin Bronzes, most of which were looted by the British during the Benin Expedition of 1897.

The museum centre was announced during an event in Enugu by director-general of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Abba Tijani (via Premium Times, Nigeria).

Tijani said NCMM is partnering with the British Museum on an archaeological excavation in Benin City. The British Museum previously confirmed the archaeology project, as well as the construction of the Edo Museum for West African Art.

Edo Museum for West African Art

John Kachikwu, curator at Enugu’s National Museum of Unity, said: “The archaeological site will be part of a living, open-air museum, and a major tourist site in the making.

“German Government, Edo Government, NCMM and Royal Benin Palace are jointly setting up a museum centre in Benin City, to form a cultural hub with the Royal Palace of Oba of Benin.”

“And we shall replicate this in other cultural centres like Ife, Kano, Igboukwu, and others,” added Kachikwu. Tijani also confirmed the involvement of architectural firm Adjaye Associates.

“These are several hundreds of Benin Bronzes, looted in 1897 and the return is expected to commence in 2022,” Tijani said.

British Museum’s Benin Bronzes

“The University of Aberdeen has also agreed to return an important Benin Bronze to Nigeria, and a few weeks ago, an Ife Bronze was brought back from Mexico.”

The British Museum has more than 900 objects from the historic Kingdom of Benin, many of which came to the museum after the conquest of Benin City in 1897.

The Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) is led by the Legacy Restoration Trust and designed by Adjaye Associates. It will house the world’s most comprehensive display of Benin Bronzes.

“I am humbled and deeply inspired to design the new EMOWAA, a project that will establish a new museum paradigm for Africa,” David Adjaye said last year.

Image: The British Museum

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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