Washington National Gallery of Art to return rooster from Benin to Nigeria


Weeks after Jesus College, Cambridge officially handed over documents relating to the return of the Bronze Rooster from Benin to the Oba of Benin, the National Gallery of Arts in Washington DC, United States, announced its intention to return a tanned Benin rooster in Nigeria.

The Art Newspaper reports that the gallery has said it will return the only Beninese artifact in its possession on the basis of a mutually acceptable timeline and terms. The rooster was among the Beninese artifacts looted during the invasion of the royal palace of the Oba of Benin in 1897 and scattered around the world, and was donated to the gallery in 1955.

Beninese works of art are held by more than 160 international museums, including in the United States. But many museums are planning the return of Beninese works of art to Nigeria, with Germany and Nigeria signing a memorandum of understanding to repatriate more than 1,100 Beninese bronze works in their possession, with the first repatriation being considered in the first quarter. 2022.

Likewise, two British universities returned two looted objects to Nigeria: the University of Aberdeen, returned the bronze head of an Oba / King, and Jesus College Cambridge returned a rooster similar to the one in Washington DC.

American museums are taking similar steps to repatriate Beninese works of art in their possession, with the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art removing the Benin bronzes from the exhibition and planning their return to Nigeria. The Fowler Museum at the University of California has also announced its intention to discuss with Nigerian authorities the future of 18 objects in its collection from the Kingdom of Benin.

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