Nigeria plans to build a new museum that would showcase Benin bronzes and other artefacts looted from Nigeria and currently displayed in European and American museums.
The new museum will be completed over the next four years.
Many Benin bronzes looted from Nigeria are currently at the British Museum and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. AFP reports that these include a group of more than 1000 prized metal plaques and sculptures looted in 1897. The artefacts were looted by British troops from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin.
Further, the medium reports that the possibility of having the objects returned to Benin City and displayed at the proposed Edo Museum of West African Art has long been a dream for many.
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who was recently sworn in for a second term in office; announced the project on Friday. Further, he disclosed that the new museum should be ready by 2024.
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He said: “This project will help us reconnect our past glory to our present realities. We hope the overall project should be far developed if not totally completed by the end of 2024.’’
The 10,000-square foot (930-square metre) museum is being designed by David Adjaye. Adjaye is the award-winning architect behind the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington. The Ghanaian-British architect hopes that the building in Nigeria will have “a place on the world stage.”
“It is not just enough to give back objects that were taken but to also collaborate and make this a world class centre.”
Also, in a chat with AFP, Theophilus Umogbai, curator of the existing National Museum in Benin; expressed delight with the initiative.
“I am elated. The museum will serve as an identity symbol of the rich cultural arts traditions of Benin people.”
Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said that the new Nigeria museum “will surely become one of the most significant museum initiatives in the coming decades.”
In addition to the museum, an archaeological excavation project will begin in 2021. The excavation project will be at a site adjacent to the palace of the Oba, Benin’s traditional ruler, AFP reports. The British Museum and the Legacy Restoration Trust have already secured the equivalent of $4 million of initial funding, according to a statement from the London museum.