The University of Aberdeen to return Benin Bronze to Nigeria
Many years after British authorities looted the statues, the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom has announced that it will return a Benin bronze to Nigeria.
The UK University made the announcement in a statement sent on Thursday, March 25. The school also announced that they had recently repatriated religious objects and historical remains to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The bronze sculpture depicting a Benin Oba (king) was purchased by the University at an auction in 1957 and is considered a fine example of Benin Late Period Art. Thousands of metal and ivory statues, as well as carvings, were looted by British troops after an invasion of Benin City in 1897. They were sold to collections, offered to museums as gifts, or auctioned off by art dealers.
A statement released by the university read;
The University of Aberdeen is to return a Benin bronze, the first-ever fully repatriated to Nigeria by a museum. The University announced it would return the sculpture more than 125 years after it was looted by British forces.
An ongoing review of the collections identified the Head of an Oba as having been acquired in a way that we now consider to have been extremely immoral, so we took a proactive approach to identify the appropriate people to discuss what to do,” the school said as it became the first institution to agree to the full repatriation from a museum of a Benin bronze.
It would not have been right to have retained an item of such great cultural importance that was acquired in such reprehensible circumstances.
We, therefore, decided that an unconditional return is the most appropriate action we can take, and are grateful for the close collaboration with our partners.