Showing results 1 - 12 of 46 for the tag: Benin Bronzes.

August 1, 2016

Brexit may give new hope for Nigerian artefacts in British Museum

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

Could Britain leaving the EU lead to the return of disputed Nigerian treasures

Taking a cue from the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill, and the legal claim inadmissibility, questions are being asked about whether Brexit could be a route to the repatriation of other disputed artefacts in the British Museum. Nigeria has various claims relating to the seizure of artefacts from the ancient kingdom of Benin during punitive raids by the British in 1897.

Benin Bronzes in the British Museum

Benin Bronzes in the British Museum

From:
The Guardian (Nigeria)

Brexit: How hope may rise for Nigeria’s looted artefacts
By Tajudeen Sowole
31 July 2016

If the two centuries of ownership crisis between United Kingdom and Greece, over controversial Parthenon Marbles, is resolved as a result of Brexit, hopes may appear on the horizon for return of artefacts of Nigerian origin incarcerated in the British Museum, London. Currently, what has been described as “a cross party group” of British MPs has reopened bid to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece as part of effort to keep healthy relationship with Athens after Brexit.

Also known as the Elgin Marbles, the objects, which include parts of sculptures and frieze from 2,500 years old of remnant ancient master pieces became subject of ownership tussle after the British government acquired them 200 years ago. The sculptures were originally removed from Parthenon, an ancient edifice in Athens by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, who was suspected to have ‘stolen’ the pieces from Greece during Ottoman Empire rule. But the then British Parliament disagreed that the marble pieces were illegitimately acquired.
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March 23, 2015

The man who returned the Bird of Prophecy to Nigeria

Posted at 1:58 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Mark Walker inherited a bronze sculpture from Nigeria that had been taken from the country by his Grandfather during the Benin Punitive Expedition.

After coming into possession of one of the Benin Bronzes, he had to think what to do with it next. He thought ahead to what would happen to them when he died. His children did not want them, and he did not want them to be sold at auction. Instead, he got in touch with the Richard Lander Society, who facilitated the return for the sculptures to the descendants of the rulers of Benin.

It seems that in more and more stories, while individuals feel a need to do the right thing, by righting historic wrongs, museums and other institutions seem far less compelled to do so. This is despite the fact that as places of education, one would expect that they would be the ones to be taking a moral lead in such situations rather than dragging their heels.

Eight hundred items from the Benin Punitive Expedition are still held in the British Museum in London. Other institutions around the world house many more. In all cases, Nigeria also claims rightful ownership.

The "Bird of Prophecy" returned to Benin City by Mark Walker

The “Bird of Prophecy” returned to Benin City by Mark Walker

From:
BBC News

26 February 2015 Last updated at 00:09
The man who returned his grandfather’s looted art
By Ellen Otzen BBC World Service

At the end of the 19th Century British troops looted thousands of works of art from the Benin Empire – in modern-day Nigeria – and brought them home. One soldier’s grandson inherited two bronzes but recently returned them to their original home.

“It’s an image that’s deeply ingrained in my memory. The dead body seemed unreal. It’s not a picture you can easily forget,” says Mark Walker.
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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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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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February 24, 2013

The Koh-i-noor diamond, the Parthenon Marbles & the Benin Bronzes – three disputed artefact cases

Posted at 7:31 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku writes about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments on the Koh-i-noor diamond & the Parthenon Marbles during his trip to India.

From:
Kwame Opoku (by email)

DAVID CAMERON RULES OUT THE RETURN OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES AND THE KOHINOOR DIAMOND TO THEIR COUNTIES OF ORIGIN.

On the last day of his trade visit to India, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, ruled out the return of the Kohinoor Diamond to India and added that the same applied to the Parthenon /Elgin Marbles. (1)

Cameron thought it was best that these objects be left where they are in the care of the British Museum
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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 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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April 3, 2012

Why the Parthenon Marbles are a special case for restitution

Posted at 12:48 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

This article appears as a response to the previous article in the Guardian. There are many things that make the Parthenon Sculptures a special case – the fact that they form part of a greater whole & that they were designed to be seen in a specific context, not as an object could be easily relocated are just a couple of them. This is not to deny that other cases have merit to them as well – each case should be judged alone, as they are so different. The differences are not just in the objects themselves, but in their cultural significance, where they were taken from, when they were taken, the circumstances surrounding their removal etc.

In cases such as the Parthenon Marbles, Greece has previously made clear offers that if the sculptures were returned, they would provide Britain with other temporary exhibitions of similar value (a very hard thing to assess). Temporary exhibitions are the main thing that draws people back on return visits to the British Museum, so surely having these regularly arranged for them would result in win-win situation for the museum?

From:
Guardian

Are the Parthenon marbles really so special?
Mike Pitts
Monday 2 April 2012 20.30 BST

The British Museum has had only one request to return something from its vast collections that it regards as official. The Greek government has asked the British government if it can have the Parthenon marbles back. Stephen Fry also thinks the issue of these sculptures is unique. In December last year, in a blog picked up over the weekend by a restitution lobby group, Fry wrote: “The Parthenon affair is a special case.”

Which it is. That stunning building embodies the culture that gave us democracy, the Olympic Games and all that classical stuff we used to be taught at school. It inspired the Renaissance and Byron, and now the many who would like to see the bits in the British Museum – about half the surviving sculptures – given back to Greece.
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March 29, 2012

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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March 16, 2012

London riots & the Benin Empire

Posted at 1:53 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following on from the comments made before about the London Riots, this article looks at how they compare to the looting of Benin in 1897 by British forces.

From:
Modern Ghana

Of Youths, London Riots, Benin Empire et al
By Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth
Feature Article | Sat, 20 Aug 2011

Example is better than precept so we should tell my Kid Brother, David Cameron, Prime Minister of United Kingdom in response to his utterances following the London riots characterised by looting and Arson following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by the London Metropolitan Police.

Those Youths and Arsonists are now being tried in Courts of Law for stealing things like Ice cream, Chewing Gum and Table Water. Some of the Youths are being charged for taking more tangible things like Ipods, Ipads,Lap Tops and Flat screen Televisions sets
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September 29, 2010

What are the Benin Bronzes

Posted at 8:43 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The Open University has produced a short video that explains the story of the Benin Bronzes very clearly in less than three minutes. It would be interesting to see if the creator of this clip could be persuaded to do similar things for some other key restitution cases such as the Parthenon Sculptures.

From:
Open University

Prepare to be Inspired…
The Benin Bronzes

Been inspired by the Benin Bronzes? Explore other topics and see what else inspires you.

What do the Benin Bronzes mean to you? Ground breaking art from the African continent, or a shameful symbol of Britain’s Imperial past?

The Arts Past and Present (AA100) investigates the collision of cultures and the impact on today’s world. It’s designed to excite and challenge your thinking on a host of historical as well as topical issues.

Whether you’re in search of Cleopatra, into sacred places, want to learn more about the Dalai Lama, Irish Nationalism or the Benin Bronzes we guarantee to take your interest further

From:
Open University

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