As US museums move to return looted African artifacts to their collections, the Denver Art Museum has released a bronze from Benin it has owned since 1955.
The object, a bronze plaque dating from the 16th or 17th century, is said to be from a group of thousands of objects that were looted from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 by British troops. Known as the Benin Bronzes, these objects have since been scattered around the world, with many residing in the British Museum in London.
the Denver Post reported Monday that the Denver Art Museum’s Benin Bronze, a plaque depicting either a court noble or a chief, was officially removed from the institution’s holdings. The object has not yet been officially repatriated to Nigeria, the current country where the Kingdom of Benin was once located.
A spokesperson for the Denver Art Museum said the plaque is one of 11 works in the museum’s collection believed to come from the Kingdom of Benin, although 9 of them date from after 1897. The other of the two Benin bronzes owned by the museum, which is either a bronze pendant or a belt mask, is still the subject of ongoing research.
âThe museum will continue to act in good faith as a global partner on issues of repatriation and restitution of works of art,â the museum said in a statement. ART news. “To date, the museum has not been contacted by anyone in Nigeria regarding these works or requests for their return.”
In November, the museum told the Denver Post that he was looking for the origin of the plate. Its alienation suggests that the museum may be getting closer to returning the object, although it has not yet done so.
News of the Denver Art Museum’s alienation came just days after the Washington Post American museums surveyed on their plans for the Benin bronzes in their collections. According to Washington Post, dozens of American museums have bronzes from Benin, and 16 of them are actively seeking to repatriate their objects from the group. (When the Washington Post asked the Denver Art Museum about its Benin bronzes, it had not yet disposed of the plaque, the institution’s spokesperson said.)
Several US museums have already launched plans to return the bronzes from Benin to their collections or have even successfully returned them to Nigeria. Among them are the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian African Art Museum.