Nigeria Receives Stolen Benin, Ife Artefacts From US Museum

The Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments has recovered three of the stolen Nigerian artworks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art(MET) in New York.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the artworks which included, two 16th-century brass plaques, depicting a Warrior Chief and and a Junior Court Official belonging to the Benin as well as one 14th-century Ife head were received by the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments(NCMM), Prof. Abba Tijjani in company of the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija.

According to NAN, the MET currently houses about 160 works of arts from Nigeria, which were mostly donated by individuals said to have acquired them from the art market.

Tijjani in the report commended the museum for returning the artefacts to Nigeria while urging other museums in possession of Nigerian artefacts to follow suit.

The meeting also featured the NCMM signing a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with the MET as a way to further collaborate and strengthen the renewed relationship in terms of cultural property exchange between the countries.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with the MET because we cannot exist in an island, for example, the museum cannot be working in Nigeria without collaborating with partners outside the country.

"So, we are looking forward to collaborating with MET now that we are friends and we understand each other and we want to see how we can work together,’’ he said.

Tijjani further added that the collaboration will be much needed especially in the area  training and capacity building for personel spread across the 52 museums and 65 monuments in the country.

“We have about 52 museums across the country under the commission, and we have 65 monuments and sites and staff working in the museums will require modern training.’’

 “Nigeria is very passionate about the way it exhibits its artefacts and we feel that it will be good if we collaborate and rob minds when it comes to joint exhibitions. There is a need for us to exhibit our works in a way that we understand it and we want people to understand these artefacts too,’’ he said.

In his remark, MET Director, Max Hollein also expressed readiness to collaborate with Nigeria through NCMM and to have a framework upon which such collaboration will be built which the MoU will cover.

“We have had a long lasting relationship, the museum is committed to a responsible process in collaborating in areas of standards as well as to study works that have been in our collection. It’s an ongoing effort to learn to exchange and to find the right solutions,’’ he said.

“We at the MET are so pleased to establishing the framework of exchange with Nigeria and we are looking forward to collaborating together,’’ Hollein said.

The artworks, report says are currently being at the Consulate-General of Nigeria in New York and will be subsequently transported to Nigeria.


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