The Met will return three African art objects to Nigeria

June 10, 2021 at 14:18

Written by Helen StoilasThis article was originally published by The Art Newspaper , an editorial partner of CNN Style.
Following recent moves by European museums to return African art treasures to Nigeria, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced Wednesday that it is sending three objects back to the country.
The museum decided to return the works after conducting research in collaboration with the British Museum, with input from the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).
Soon, however, my predilection for Benin art asserted itself, and it became the only kind of African art I continued to buy, until, quite unnoticed, it developed into a collection."
Around 1950 or 1951, the London institution transferred them with 24 other items to the National Museum in Lagos.
http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/316484 Credit: Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe brass "Ife Head," meanwhile, was offered to the museum for purchase by a collector whom the Met did not identify.
According to the Met, the individual who offered the head "had been under the misapprehension that legal title to the work had been granted by the NCMM."
Inquiries made by the museum proved otherwise, it added, and the Met "arranged with the seller and their agent for the 'Ife Head' to return to its rightful home."
The Met said it will hold onto the works until the NCMM's director general, Abba Isa Tijani, can travel to New York to retrieve them.
"We sincerely appreciate the transparency exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art regarding issues leading to the return of these objects," Tijani said in a statement.
Among the projects that the Met would like to work on with Nigeria, he added, is the planned Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City.
The art world can be a better place if every possessor of cultural artifacts considers the rights and feelings of the dispossessed."
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