Germany and Nigeria to sign an agreement on the return of the Benin Bronzes

BERLIN (AP) — Germany is set to sign an agreement in Nigeria on Friday paving the way for the return of important sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes that were taken from Africa in the late 19th century.

Governments and museums in Europe and North America have increasingly sought to resolve ownership disputes over objects looted during colonial times.

A British colonial expedition stole the bas-relief bronzes along with many other treasures from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897.

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, an authority that oversees many of Berlin’s museums, announced last year that it was entering formal negotiations over the return of pieces from its collection.

The MoU will be signed in Berlin by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Culture Minister Claudia Roth, along with their Culture Minister Lai Mohammed and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Zubairo Dada.

Final details of the return have yet to be announced, but the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation said it plans to keep some of the bronzes on loan from Nigeria.

Last year, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, removed 10 Benin bronze pieces from display and pledged to repatriate them to Nigeria. Other museums have also started discussions about returning the objects.

Many of the items remain in the British Museum, which has resisted calls to return them.

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