The Stream

Who owns the Benin Bronzes?

On Wednesday, April 28 at 19:30 GMT:
In 1897, British troops looted thousands of bronze sculptures and artefacts from the African kingdom of Benin, located in present-day southern Nigeria. Bronze plaques, masks and other objects have over the years scattered around the world, ending up in Western museums or sold to private collectors.

Generations later – and facing a global movement to address racial injustices – more museums are responding to calls for the return of these objects that hold great cultural significance for Nigeria.

Germany announced that it would remove more than 500 Benin Bronzes from its public museums and work toward a full return of the looted artefacts. And in Scotland, the University of Aberdeen became the first institution to repatriate a Benin Bronze back to Nigeria. The British Museum holds more than 900 Benin Bronzes but has not committed to returning them.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the debate over repatriating the Benin Bronzes.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Enotie Ogbebor, @enoti_boi
Artist and activist

Barnaby Phillips, @BarnabyPhillips
Author of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes

Neil Curtis
Head of museums and special collections, University of Aberdeen