The Horniman Museum in London has consented to give ownership of a stolen collection of priceless artefacts, including the Benin Bronzes, to Nigeria.
It is “moral and appropriate,” according to the Horniman Museum, to transfer ownership of the 72 seized items—among which are 12 bronze plaques known as Benin Bronzes—to the Nigerian government.
Eve Salomon, chairwoman of the Trustees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, south-east London, said: ‘The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria.’
A brass cockerel altar piece, ivory and brass ceremonial objects, brass bells, among many others are among the items.
The items were taken from Benin City in Nigeria by British troops in February 1897. In January, Nigeria’s national commission for museums and monuments (NCMM) requested the items be returned.
According to Mail Online, the Horniman then carried out detailed research and contacted community members, visitors, schoolchildren, academics, heritage professionals and artists based in Nigeria and the UK.
The Horniman trustees decided to return ownership of the collection and this was given the green light by the Charity Commission, which regulates the charitable sector, on August 5.
Talks are being held with NCMM about the formal transfer of ownership, and the possibility of retaining some objects on loan for display, research and education.
NCMM director general Professor Abba Tijani said: ‘We very much welcome this decision by the trustees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
‘Following the endorsement by the Charity Commission, we look forward to a productive discussion on loan agreements and collaborations between the national commission for museums and monuments and the Horniman.’