Digital Benin contains data from about 5,246 objects scattered across 131 institutions in 20 countries.
The law will apply only in “rare cases,” one expert says, but nevertheless signals a shift from past legal restrictions.
Liberal establishment darling David Frum mocks repatriation efforts as a “ritual of self-purification through purgation.”
It is the first national museum in England to agree to restitute looted Benin items, increasing pressure on the British Museum to do the same.
As the global consensus on restitution passes the tipping point, some skepticism towards these sudden, improbable Damascene conversions towards restitution is probably justified.
Provenance research is still being conducted on the ten remaining bronzes in the collection.
Also slated for return are seven Indian artifacts and 25 Lakota items, some of them seized from the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre.
The question remains: Is an African museum, designed by an African architect, capable of undoing the institutional violence that it has inherited?
The institution says it will return most of the 39 artifacts in its collection to Nigeria for eventual display at the Benin City National Museum.
The African Origins exhibition ignores the fact that approximately 160 objects from Benin are held by the museum under ongoing demands for their repatriation.
Equity should be discussed in the form of European and American institutions partnering with the Benin government to create sustainable museums.
The museum and the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments entered into a shared agreement to collaborate on mutual loans of Benin objects and other “exchanges of expertise and art.”