German cultural foundation closer to returning Benin Bronzes to Nigeria


A German cultural foundation moved closer to returning the first Benin Bronzes, artifacts plundered in the 19th century to Nigeria, it said on Tuesday following a meeting.

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation’s trustees authorised its President, Hermann Parzinger, to conduct negotiations with the authorities in Nigeria, with the aim of returning objects in the coming year.

Among other institutions, the foundation runs the Berlin Ethnological Museum, which holds around 530 artifacts’ from the former kingdom of Benin, including around 440 bronzes.

Most of the artifacts were looted by British forces during a military expedition to the kingdom in what is now Nigeria in 1897.

Bronzes from the royal palace of the kingdom of Benin were also found in many other German museums, and there were also plans to show the works in Berlin’s new Humboldt Forum.

Culture Minister, Monika Gruetters, said after the meeting that negotiations were under way over particular objects, but she refused to provide further details to avoid prejudicing the discussions.

Parzinger said concrete steps and a roadmap could now be agreed with the Nigerian side to really come to substantial restitutions.

Meanwhile, the foundation is also to be reformed, with its museums, libraries, archives and research institutions to become more autonomous.

A collegial body is to be established to run the foundation, with members appointed for a fixed term and led by a full-time president.

How its funding is to be structured in future remains under discussion.(dpa/NAN)