Showing results 1 - 12 of 68 for the tag: Africa.

April 7, 2014

Is it time for Africa’s stolen artefacts to return home?

Posted at 1:01 pm in Similar cases

Although some of the reviews of it haven’t been that great, the film Monuments Men has done an amazing job of raising awareness for the issue of disputed artefacts.

In this article, Chika Ezeanya looks at the many African Artefacts that have ended up in the museums & institutions of the West.

A series of African sculptures in the Yale collection

A series of African sculptures in the Yale collection

From:
Think Africa Press

It’s Time for Africa’s Stolen Artefacts to Come Home
Africa’s history has for too long laid scattered across Western museums and private collections, out of the reach of their true owners’ hearts, minds and memories.
Article | 4 April 2014 – 11:33am | By Chika Ezeanya

In a recently-released film, The Monuments Men, in which a group of Second World War soldiers embark upon a mission to save pieces of art before they are destroyed by the Nazis, Lieutenant Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney, notes: “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they will still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, if you destroy their achievements, then it is as if they never existed.”

While in London to publicise the film, this basic premise was given contemporary significance as the all-star cast touched a sensitive nerve by suggesting it was time for Britain to return the so-called Elgin Marbles to Greece. Some British commentators hit out at the actors’ suggestions of repatriating the huge marble sculptures and pieces of architecture ‘acquired’ by Lord Elgin from Athens in the 19th century, while the Greek government expressed their “heartfelt thanks” for the show of solidarity.
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April 1, 2014

How can Western Museum (re-)present their colonial past

Posted at 12:54 pm in Similar cases

Many of the European countries have had long & complex colonial pasts. Within their history, there are no doubt many episodes that people today wish could be forgotten. Within the museums of the West, there is also the fact to consider that many of the artefacts in their collections are there as a result of colonisation. During the end of the era of colonialism, there was a physical colonisation, where most countries withdrew their presence within former colonies & gradually granted them independence. There has never been the same impetus however behind a cultural decolonisation – handing back of the cultural artefacts that were acquired in circumstances of dubious legality.

Is the time right now for a re-think of this? To re-assemble our museums as spaces that tell a story fit for the 21st century, giving us a fuller awareness of how the artefacts came to be assembled there & who else claims ownership on them?

The sculpture of the ‘leopard man’ at the Museum of Central Africa

The sculpture of the ‘leopard man’ at the Museum of Central Africa

From:
Irish Times

The plunder years: culture and the colony
Suzanne Lynch
Last Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014, 16:59

Last month, George Clooney was drawn into a cultural debate that has long been a sensitive issue for Britain. Asked during a press conference in London’s National Gallery if the Elgin Marbles should continue to be housed in the British Museum or in Athens, the actor said the sculptures should be returned to the Parthenon from where they were taken by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.

Clooney was in town to promote The Monuments Men , a film that explores the ethical questions around cultural ownership as it tells the story of soldiers tasked with retrieving stolen art from Nazi Germany during the second World War.
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March 8, 2013

Will Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts return disputed Benin Bronzes

Posted at 8:45 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts recently acquired a number of disputed Benin Artefacts. These items all relate to the ransacking of Benin by the British in 1897 & the transfer of their ownership to the museum has caused much controversy.

From:
SPY Ghana

Sun, Jan 6th, 2013
Will Boston Museum Of Fine Arts Return Looted Benin Bronzes?

By Ghana News -SpyGhana.com

“The public interest must surely be in upholding the rule of law, rather than promoting an international free-for-all through the unrestricted circulation of tainted works of art. Do we really wish to educate our children to have no respect for history, legality and ethical values by providing museums with the opportunity freely to exhibit stolen property? ”

Extract from a letter by several members of the British House of Lords. (1)

Readers may recall that when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA, recently acquired by donation a number of looted Benin artefacts, there was a large public outcry against this acquisition of blood antiquities by a leading and respected American museum. (2) The Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments demanded the immediate return of the looted objects. (3) Other writers also urged the return of these precious artefacts that the British had looted in a violent invasion of the flourishing Benin Kingdom in 1897. (4) Ligali, a Pan-Africanist activist group, wrote to the Boston museum requesting the return of the objects to their rightful owners. In his response to Ligali, the director of the Boston museum mentioned that his institution had informed the Oba of Benin of the acquisition. (5) An impression was thus created that the Benin Royal Family had acquiesced in the acquisition, and in any case, had not protested against it.
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February 28, 2013

The “Benin Plan of action for restitution” and what it means for the return of disputed artefacts

Posted at 8:51 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Meetings have been held in Nigeria, between representatives of the government & from various institutions abroad, that hold disputed Nigerian artefacts. The aim of this is to determine some way forward to resolving the issue. For an opinion on the viability of this, the second article I have reposted gives an alternative perspective to the official government line to the media.

From:
The Guardian (Nigeria)

Amid hope of restitution, Nigeria hosts foreign museums
Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00 By Tajudeen Sowole

AS Nigeria hosts some representatives of holders of the country’s looted cultural objects as part of efforts towards the return of the controversial artefatcs, the country’s dialogue or diplomatic approach is once again on the spot.

Scheduled to hold next week, significantly, in Benin, Edo State, where the largest looting of Africa’s cultural objects took place in 1897, the meeting would be the third of its kind between the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and some museums in Europe.
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July 25, 2012

Nigeria demands return of disputed artefacts acquired by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Boston’s Musuem of Fine Arts has recently acquired an assortment of artefacts that were looted during the Benin massacre in 1897. Now, Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments is demanding their return.

From:
Huffington Post

Boston’s Museum Of Fine Arts Urged To Return Looted Artifacts To Nigeria
Posted: 07/20/2012 1:56 pm Updated: 07/20/2012 1:56 pm

The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the governmental body in Nigeria that regulates the nation’s museum systems, is demanding the return of 32 artifacts recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Consisting of various bronze and ivory sculptures looted during the Benin Massacre of 1897, the Director-General of the commission, Yusuf Abdallah Usman, states that the pieces were illegally taken by the British Expedition as spoils of war.

The MFA in Boston acquired the pieces last month as a gift from New York banker and collector Robert Owen Lehman, who purchased the Benin pieces in the 1950s and 1970s. But the pieces were originally looted by British soldiers in the late 1890s, following the Benin massacre of 1897. In a statement made by Usman, the commission stated: “Without mincing words, these artworks are heirlooms of the great people of the Benin Kingdom and Nigeria generally. They form part of the history of the people. The gap created by this senseless exploitation is causing our people, untold anguish, discomfort and disillusionment.”
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July 23, 2012

Reflecting on what can be done to recover African artefacts

Posted at 7:44 am in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku looks at the reaction of Nigeria to the recent donation of looted Benin artefacts to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

From:
Ligali

Wed 18 July 2012
Opinion: What can be done to recover African artefacts?
Opinion:Kwame Opoku (Dr) reflects on Nigeria’s reaction to the donation of looted Benin artefacts to Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Submitted By: Kwame Opoku

“The exhibition is showcasing some of the works that made Benin (Nigeria) famous. It once again, reminds the world of a civilization truncated by the imperial forces of the colonialist. The works on show at this exhibition are some of the 3000 odd pieces of bronze and ivory works forcibly removed from my great grandfather’s palace by some Britons who invaded Benin in 1897. The British kept some of the loot for themselves and sold the rest to European and American buyers. These works now adorn public museums and private collector’s galleries, all over the world.”(1)

– Oba Erediauwa, Oba of Benin.

Nigerian authority reacts

As had been anticipated by many, the National Commission on Museums and Monuments, NCMM, the Nigerian authority responsible for the preservation and conservation of Nigeria’s cultural heritage has reacted to the donation by Robert Owen Lehman of 32 looted Benin artefacts to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
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July 17, 2012

Nigerian & US museums in conflict over looted artefacts

Posted at 1:03 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

During the British led Benin massacre of 1897, thousands of artefacts were looted by the soldiers carrying out the raids. The most well know of these are the Benin Bronzes in the British Museum, but there are many others too.

From:
All Africa

Nigerian, American Museums Lock Horns Over ‘Stolen’ Artefacts
By Chika Okeke, 15 July 2012

Thousands of Benin artefacts were illegally looted by the colonial masters and European troops during their invasion of the Benin Kingdom. CHIKA OKEKE writes that about 32 priceless objects currently in Museum of Fine Art Boston U.S.A. risk repatriation on account of their failure to meet all legal standards.

The kingdom of Benin artefacts illegally kept in various museums across Britain and the United States of America have been a source of tourist attraction to both visitors and the Citizens. The artefacts are elaborate and hardly can strangers reproduce the original ones that are popular in Benin Kingdom.
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May 28, 2012

Can artefacts really be more important within the British Museum than in their homeland

Posted at 1:08 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following a visit to the British Museum, Kwame Opoku questions what significance some of the museums artefacts (that were immensely significant to their original owners) can have within the context of the museum. In the majority of cases, the answer to this would be far less. Certainly, more people may see them, but in many cases they pass by it quickly – the piece means nothing to them, once it is displayed isolated from its culture.

From:
SPY Ghana

Sat, May 26th, 2012
DO THEY KNOW QUEEN-MOTHER IDIA OF BENIN?

A recent visit to the British Museum confirmed what we have observed in previous years: many Western visitors to the museum have no specific interest in any particular Benin object, even if they visit the Sainsbury Gallery and look at the Benin Bronzes. They are mostly unaware of the looted Queen-Mother-Idia (?Iyoba?) ivory mask.

Have the hundred years of illegal retention of this mask had any effect on the knowledge and interest of the average Western visitor to the museum? It seems hardly any European visitor is even aware that the mask represents an important personality in Benin history. Most Western visitors are certainly unaware of her important and decisive role and influence in stabilizing the Kingdom of Benin
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May 1, 2012

Questions of provenance arising from destroyed Nigerian Nok statue in New York

Posted at 5:23 pm in Similar cases

The owner of a Nok statue accidentally destroyed by a magazine photographer is suing for the cost of the statue. Other issues remain unanswered in this case though, relating to the exact provenance of the terracotta figure & how it ended up in New York in the first place.

Damage such as this once again raises the issue of whether such artefacts really are in any way guaranteed to be looked after better in the west.

You can read the press coverage of the story, which includes pictures of the statue, here.

From:
Kwame Opoku (by email)

DAMAGE TO NOK SCULPTURE IN PRIVATE WESTERN COLLECTION. WILL OTHER AFRICAN ARTEFACTS END IN THIS WAY?
1 May 2012.

It has been reported in the New York Daily News that the widow of the French artist Arman, is suing in Manhattan Supreme Court for damage to a Nok sculpture caused during a photo shooting session for an art magazine. The sculpture fell and broke into pieces as shown above. Apparently, assistants of the magazine had moved the sculpture from its usual secure position. Mrs Arman has claimed that the sculpture was worth some $300,000. What will the average Nigerian think of this sum?

A question that will surely be raised is whether the precious object was insured against damage and for how much. If it was not insured, this may well reflect on the value attached to it by the owner.
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April 10, 2012

The great debate over the Magdala treasures

Posted at 7:59 am in British Museum, Events, Similar cases

A debate about the Magdala treasures from Ethiopia (currently in the British Museum) is to be held in Brixton on Wednesday 11th April.

Received by email.

Dear members of the Anglican Communion,

Please accept our Jamaican-British Diamond and Golden Jubilee greetings and best wishes for our “Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty” in our season of rejoicing.

You are invited to attend our great Magdala debate on 11th April in Brixton, we have sent for your information 2 PDF Files, (1) The Great Magdala Debate, with the Queen’s Speech, and (2) AFROMET-Jamaica inspection of the Magdala Battlefield, the original battle took place on Friday 13th April 1868.

If you are unable to attend can you submit any comment, opinion and or observations that can serve to advance the great Magdala Debate, and to promote a better Christian vista?

Fro further information, contact seymour31@hotmail.co.uk

The Jamaica-British Diamond and Golden Jubilee OAU (AU) 2013, in association with the Office of the International Executive Secretary, EWF Inc, presents. The great Magdala debate, Action now.
On the 11th April 2012, 365, Brixton Road, SW9 7DA, next to Police Station
“Looting of Magdala, and the Looted treasures in England today. ” start time 7pm – 9pm Arrival 6.30pm. One Voice debate, Musical recital.

“there are indeed six Ethiopian manuscripts in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle”, looted at Magdala, The Triple Crown and Golden Chalice is in the V&A. 550 Ethiopian manuscripts from the Church of Madhane-Alem at Magdala in the British Library and other Library’s. Google AFROMET. New Jamaican national anthem.

March 29, 2012

Dorotheum attempts second auction of African artefacts – is provenance any better this time?

Posted at 8:24 am in Similar cases

Viennese Auction House, Dorotheum, last year auctioned an assortment of African artefacts, but questions were raised about the unclear provenance of many of the items.

Another auction is planned this year, but will the provenance of the items be any clearer than at the previous one?

From Kwame Opoku via email.

ANOTHER AUCTION OF AFRICAN ARTEFACTS BY VIENNA AUCTION HOUSE, DOROTHEUM: BETTER PROVENANCES?

Dorotheum, the Viennese auction house, is holding another auction of African artefacts on 2 April, 2012. Readers may recall that in an article entitled Auction of Arican Art by Dorotheum, Vienna. But what are the Provenances of the Artefacts? reference was made to the absence of proper and adequate provenance for most of the artefacts which were part of the African collection of the late Prof. Rudolph Leopold, founder of the Leopold Museum. Museum of Modern Art, Vienna.

The artefacts in this second auction raise the same problems as the first. The provenance given is often extremely vague e.g. from the “collection of a German missionary”, “Belgian collection,” “Austrian collection”, “private South African collection,” etc. This imprecision does not facilitate the determination of the mode of acquisition of the artefacts and their legitimacy. Nor do we have any precise dates. Thus we cannot follow the history of the ownership of the object.
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Can travelling exhibitions be seen as a real alternative to restitution of artefacts?

Posted at 8:04 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku has forwarded me a response to Neil MacGregor’s assertions that the artefacts should not be returned & instead substituted with travelling exhibitions to help share the artefacts.

From Kwame Opoku via email.

Travelling Exhibition as Alternative to Restitution? Comments on Suggestion by Director of the British Museum.

The Director of the British Museum has indeed a fertile mind that never tires of inventing new defences for the retention of looted artefacts of others in the major museums.

Once it became clear that the infamous Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums. (2002) and its principles were not as effective as the signatories thought, other approaches had to be considered.

One such approach is the “travelling exhibition”. This seems interesting and reasonable until one begins to consider what is being proposed. MacGregor is reported in Elginism to have told an audience at the University of Western Australia that due to globalisation, the concept of “travelling exhibitions” will become more relevant;
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