The Met Is Returning Benin Bronzes To Nigeria, An ‘Act Of Social Justice’ In The World Of Art
The museums and galleries reminds us of the greatness that humanity could craft marvelous works of art that transcend through many generations. Not only the renowned artists like Da Vinci or Picasso have their art pieces displayed in the museums, but also many unaccounted talents whose artworks are a living proof that they actually existed and gave something to the world for the rest of us to admire and appreciate. However, the manner of acquisition of some of these artworks from unknown artists is not something to be proud of.
For one, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, in New York, boasts a very huge collection of Benin Bronzes, which are antique plaques that were crafted to immortalize the tribal leaders of the Kingdom of Benin (now known as Nigeria). Now, one might wonder how come the Met has these Benin Bronzes when the artisan crafters from Nigeria made them. This is because these plaques were looted by the British soldiers in 1897 during the conquest of the British Empire.
Met Gives In To The Call To Return The Bronzes To Where They Should Be In The First Place
Just recently, the Met announced that it is planning to return two Benin Bronzes in its possession to Nigeria. To note, the Met’s Benin Bronze collection actually came from the British Museum, which is the first to feature all the looted plaques from the former Kingdom of Benin (which makes sense, since it is the Brits who got the plaques).
To many art curators and historians, the Met’s announcement is a much welcome development as the Benin Bronzes being in the hands of a Western museum is like a celebration of a dark moment in history due to Western imperialism. The Benin Bronzes rightfully belong to Nigeria, as they are a part of the country’s rich history and they tell much about their culture. If these were only somewhere within the f95 zone, the bronzes would have been returned a long time ago.
There are many other bronzes left at the British Museum and all other galleries and museums across Europe, but the Met has already made its first move that could cause a ripple effect. Perhaps, other museums could come up with the same decision and bring their collection of Benin Bronzes back to their rightful homeland.