London Horniman museum to return more than 70 artefacts to Nigeria

·2-min read

A museum in London has decided to hand back more than 70 artefacts in its collection to Nigeria.

The 72 objects were looted from Benin City in 1897, during a British military incursion in Nigeria.

Items include the Benin Bronzes, made up of 12 brass plaques, as well as ceremonial objects, a key "to the king's palace", brass bells and a brass cockerel altar piece.

The repatriation comes after the Horniman Museum in southeast London received a request from Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in January.

It then undertook some research into the request, and consulted with the local community, school children, academics and historians, as well as artists based in Nigeria and the UK, to get their views on what should happen to the collection.

Eve Salomon, chair of the trustees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, 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.

"The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step, and we look forward to working with the NCMM to secure longer term care for these precious artefacts."

Professor Abba Tijani, director-general of the NCMM, added: "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."

The museum says it will now look into how to safely return the items, and discuss the possibility of keeping some of them on loan for research and education.

It comes after the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, last year made a request directly to Boris Johnson for the return of the Elgin Marbles - a 2,500-year-old set of sculptures used to decorate the Parthenon in Greece, that were acquired by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

The British Museum has so far refused to hand them back to Greece, despite its repeated appeals for them.