Funding secured to store Benin bronzes in Nigeria
Funding has been secured for a storage facility that will house Benin bronzes that are being returned to Nigeria.
The news came at the latest meeting of the Benin Dialogue Group, which brings together museums in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK alongside representatives of the Edo State Government, the Royal Court of Benin and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.
The group was created in 2007 to discuss the restitution of cultural objects looted from Benin City as part of the punitive expedition by the British Army in 1897. Following the looting, the objects were dispersed to museums across the world.
The Benin Dialogue Group, which met at the MARKK museum in Hamburg on 6-7 March, said lots of progress had been made since its last meeting in London in October 2021.
As well as funds being approved for the storage facility in Nigeria, the group welcomed developments that have resulted in substantial restitutions, including an agreement made last year for five German museums to return items. The group said this has opened the door to a new phase of collaboration and partnership.
The Benin Dialogue Group also said that the Digital Benin project had resulted in significant progress being made on the transparency of collections and the availability of information about them. Ongoing digitisation projects will provide new research insights and opportunities for education and outreach.
The group also announced three new members of its steering group: Karl Magnusson (National Museums of World Culture, Sweden), Nanette Snoep (Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum) and Nick Thomas (Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology).
The next meeting of the Benin Dialogue Group will take place in Stockholm, Sweden, in May 2024.