Showing results 37 - 46 of 46 for the tag: Benin Bronzes.

September 2, 2008

Are we any closer to restitution today?

Posted at 12:52 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

With many cultural property disputes, restitution is no closer now than it was twenty years ago. However the climate for restitution is currently more favourable than ever before.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Mon, 01 Sep 2008

At a seminar on Edo Culture organized by the Edo Community in Vienna on Friday 29 August 2008 where I spoke on the restitution of the Benin bronzes to well-informed and enthusiastic participants, the question was asked whether there was any hope of the British ever returning the Benin bronzes they stole in 1897. My answer was that even though we are no where near the season of restitution of the thousands of cultural objects stolen from Africa by the European powers – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal – there has never been a more favourable climate for restitution than now. There are factors which should encourage the intensification of a search for solutions to this shameful phenomenon in international relations:
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August 18, 2008

Avoiding the subject of provenance

Posted at 12:43 pm in Similar cases

Even otherwise excellent books published by museums, can tend to gloss over how items came to leave their homelands.
If museums aren’t ashamed of how artefacts were acquired, then why don’t they discuss it clearly.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Fri, 15 Aug 2008

This book corresponds to what I think the average visitor to an exhibition needs: a short introduction to the subject-matter, with illustrations and sufficient information for the reader to understand the significance of the theme without being burdened by too many pages.
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August 17, 2008

Why Nigeria’s treasures must be protected

Posted at 5:49 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

A response to the earlier editorial article about how corruption threatens the security of some ancient artefacts in Nigeria.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Wed, 13 Aug 2008

There are probably few countries in the world that can boast of such an abundance of cultural treasures as Nigeria, one of the richest countries in the world. But Nigeria has also an enormous amount of organizational problems which are also reflected in the cultural area. The constant lamentations about the weak security in many Nigerian museums often cause distress to those concerned about the fate of cultural objects that were unlawfully taken out of the country and which have to be returned in the future. Those conscious of these problems are discussing how to combat corruption in this area and how to achieve high standards of security.
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August 12, 2008

Safeguarding Nigeria’s treasures

Posted at 12:37 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Items such as the Benin Bronzes were removed from Nigeria in dubious circumstances during the colonial period. In some cases though, work needs to be done to secure the remaining artefacts within the country rather than losing focus on them whilst those outside the country are the issue.

This does not of course take into account that there is no moral argument for their retention by an appointed party without any attempts to enter into dialogue with the rightful owners.


Nigeria: Safe-Guarding Our Treasures
Daily Trust (Abuja)
12 August 2008

The original Benin bronze-head, the exquisite symbol of the creative ingenuity of the Bini, Nigerian and indeed African people still lies in some British museum where it is being kept, after having been stolen by the British colonialists.

Sporadic efforts at reclaiming it a few years ago became a court case and the British Court ruled that the bronze head may have originated from Nigeria but it is now a priceless world cultural heritage and therefore can be kept by any country, particularly when the country holding it would do a better job at its safe-keeping.
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August 1, 2008

How the Benin Bronzes left Benin

Posted at 12:42 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Inspired by Kwame Opoku’s writings on the Benin Bronzes, David Gill looks at the story of how the Benin Bronzes ended up in the great museums of the western world & how this relates to James Cuno’s analysis of the importance of artefacts such as these within an Encyclopaedic museum.

Modern Ghana

Some Thoughts on the Benin Bronzes
By David Gill
Feature Article | Wed, 30 Jul 2008

James Cuno (in Who Owns Antiquity? [2008]) takes six objects from the holdings of the Art Institute of Chicago to demonstrate its character as an “encyclopedic museum”. The third piece is a bronze plaque from Benin that was acquired in 1933; Cuno speculates that it probably “left” the kingdom of Benin following the punitive raid by the British in 1897.

Kwame Anthony Appiah (Cosmopolitanism [2006]) also uses the Benin bronzes as he asks the question, “Whose Culture Is it, Anyway?”
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July 27, 2008

UNESCO, Nok terracotta & The Met

Posted at 11:18 am in Similar cases

New York’s Metropolitan Museum has no record of Nigerian art prior to the Benin Bronzes. Met Director Philippe de Montebello suggests that this is a problem brought about by the 1970 UNESCO convention on Cultural Property.

Kwame Opoku however suggests that perhaps this approach is glossing over the realities of the situation.


Kwame Opoku, a tireless commentator on restitution issues (one of whose essays recently attracted a rejoinder on from Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello), responds to Michael Conforti Q&A About AAMD and Antiquities:

It is always interesting to hear from those whose work it is to keep records of the past achievements of mankind and society declaring that we must forget the past and look forward to the future. What they are saying is that there should be no archaeology of the acquisition practices of the past.
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July 24, 2008

Growing demand for return of Benin Bronzes

Posted at 10:35 am in British Museum, Similar cases

The Benin Bronzes are spread across many museums & institutions of the west – demand for their return grows though, as more people begin to understand how many of them were acquired.


Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku
Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The information below indicates that the demand for the return of the Benin artefacts which the British looted in 1897 in the infamous Punitive Expedition of 1897 is growing. This increase interest is no doubt due to the discussion on the exhibition, Benin Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria’ now at the Art Institute of Chicago.
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July 19, 2008

Four hundred Benin Bronzes in Chicago’s Field Museum

Posted at 10:37 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku writes about the opening of the exhibition Benin-Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria in Chicago & how maybe some of the sculptures would be appreciated more if they were returned to their original context.

Modern Ghana

Further Report from the exhibition “Benin-Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria”
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Fri, 18 Jul 2008

The article below provides us further report on the opening of the exhibition which is now at the Art Institute of Chicago. until 21 September,2008. I was very interested to note that the Field Museum in Chicago has some 400 Benin bronzes, a fact which up to now seems to have escaped the attention of many of us who believe that the time has come for the various holders of the Benin bronzes to take a courageous step in returning some of the pieces. Americans and Europeans cannot need these Benin bronzes as much as the people of Benin.
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July 14, 2008

Is Cuno relenting on restitution?

Posted at 1:16 pm in Similar cases

Cuno’s comments at the opening of the exhibition Benin – Kings and Rituals: Royal Arts from Nigeria suggejst that he is willing to consider restitution claims. At this point though it is unclear whether he has had a change of heart since the publication of his book, or if his quote was taken out of context. If it is the former though, then it is a very positive step.

Modern Ghana

By Dr. Kwame Opoku
Feature Article | Mon, 14 Jul 2008

As readers know, the exhibition, Benin – Kings and Rituals: Royal Arts from Nigeria, which started in Vienna, in 2007, went on to Paris and Berlin, was opened in Chicago, on 10 July and will be there until 21 September 2008.

For various reasons, including the fear of litigation and judicial attempts to seize some of the Benin bronzes, only some 220 objects will be displayed in Chicago compared to some 300 objects in Berlin. The bad consciences of some of the holders of these objects seem to have been activated by the previous protests in Chicago and the discussions on the illegality and illegitimacy of their possession. Hence some owners were not willing to let their artefacts cross the Atlantic to the USA where judges are quick to order seizure of artworks which are alleged to have been stolen or dubious provenance.
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May 18, 2008

The universal museum – from Benin to Chicago

Posted at 8:24 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Popularised as a concept in recent years by the British Museum, is the concept of the Universal Museum in the todays world anything more than a marketing strategy for the continued retention of artefacts by the worlds most powerful museums?

Modern Ghana

By Dr. Kwame Opoku
Sat, 17 May 2008
Feature Article

“And I am left thinking that the “Enlightenment principles on which public museums in the United States were established” have perhaps contributed to the irreversible destruction of our universal, or cosmopolitan, cultural heritage”.

David Gill, Collecting Antiquities and Enlightenment Principles (1)

…The exhibition, Benin: Kings and Rituals Court Arts from Nigeria, goes to the Art Institute of Chicago (A.I.C.) from July 10 – September 21, 2008 as the final station of this travelling exhibition which, starting in Vienna, generated debates about restitution of stolen art, went to Paris and Berlin. It is to be noted that the exhibition which is the biggest ever held on Benin art will not be seen in Nigeria. It goes next to Chicago. But what kind of institution is the Art Institute of Chicago?
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