Dozens of artefacts displayed in Swiss museums are suspected of being looted art from the former African Kingdom of Benin, an investigation has concluded.This content was published on February 3, 2023 – 11:09February 3, 2023 – 11:09
At least 21 objects were identified as looted art and examiners suspect that more than half of the 96 exhibits could have been stolen by British soldiers in the nineteenth century.
+ Read how Switzerland is ‘de-colonising’ cultural artefacts
The results of an 18-month provenance probe of Benin artefacts in eight Swiss museums were published on Thursday.
The report found proof that 21 objects were stolen and strong evidence of another 32 artefacts belonging to that group.
The objects made from brass, ivory and wood are linked to the sacking of Benin City in the former Kingdom of Benin by British troops in 1897.
It is believed the objects, collectively known as the ‘Benin Bronzes’, made their way into Switzerland through a network of art dealers.
+ What a Swiss curator has to say about looted art in museums
The Kingdom of Benin is now a district of Nigeria and has no connection with the modern Republic of Benin.
The Swiss museums voluntarily launched the ‘Benin Initiative Switzerland’ investigation and say they are open to returning stolen artefacts to Nigeria.
A Nigerian delegation is in Switzerland to work out the next stage of the process with the Swiss authorities.
“We want to give museums the opportunity to return these works of art to their rightful owners and display them legally – to do the right thing,” Abba Tijani, director general of the National Museums and Monuments Authority of Nigeria, told SWI swissinfo.ch.
In 2021, Germany agreed to return 1,300 bronzes and in 2022 British and United States institutions transferred ownership back to Nigeria.
Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Western Africa
Will be the same in all museums worldwide…