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Obaseki steps up campaign, rallies EU museums, others for return of stolen Benin artefacts

Obaseki steps up campaign, rallies EU museums, others for return of stolen Benin artefacts

…assures timely completion of Benin Royal Museum

 The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has stepped up the campaign for the return of prized Benin heritage objects looted from the Benin Kingdom during the British invasion of the kingdom in 1897.

To assuage the worries of global stakeholders over the safety of the artefacts when returned, Obaseki has reiterated that work on the Royal Benin Museum will be expedited to house the artefacts.

According to the governor, “We will not relent in our quest and clamour for the return of these valuable works that were carted away from our state in 1897.

“The objects mean a lot to our people as they represent our history, culture, our creative ability and in some quarters, these art works mean much more.”

He further said that consultations with all the interest groups will continue to ensure that the return process is seamless.

Recall that the governor gave similar assurance during the second coronation anniversary of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, last weekend.

Earlier in month in The Netherlands, Obaseki and the Benin Dialogue Group committed to a number of proposals towards the return of the Benin artefacts and the establishment of the Benin Royal Museum in Benin City, in collaboration with local and international partners.

The museum, according to the Benin Dialogue Group, a multi-lateral working group, will be for permanent display of Benin artworks from European and Nigerian museums.

The partnership will set a framework for the European partners to provide advice, as requested, in areas including building and exhibition design, while European and Nigerian partners will work collaboratively to develop training, source funding, and legal frameworks to facilitate the permanent display of Benin art works in the new museum.”

The Benin Dialogue Group is a multi-lateral collaborative working group that brings together museum representatives from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom with key representatives from Nigeria.

At the meeting, Obaseki presented concrete plans for the Benin Royal Museum being developed by the Edo State Government and the Royal Court of Benin with the support of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.

His Royal Highness, Prince Gregory Akenzua, Enogie of Evbobanosa, was quoted in the statement as saying, “The Benin Dialogue Group meeting in Leiden was very fruitful; all the partners were open and frank in their discussion. I am happy we are making progress in the effort to give our people the opportunity to once more access our heritage objects that were looted in 1897.”

On his part, Stijn Schoonderwoerd, said, “We were very impressed by the progress made by our Nigerian partners towards the new museum. We are grateful to Governor Obaseki for coming to Leiden to present plans for its development. The European museums are excited to collaborate on this project and have shown their commitment today to making historical Benin works of art available in Nigeria.”

“A central objective for the Benin Dialogue Group is to work together to establish a museum in Benin City with a rotation of Benin works of art from a consortium of European museums in collaboration with the Edo State Government and the Royal Court of Benin, with the support of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.

“On 19 October 2018, at the National Museum of World Cultures, The Netherlands, the Benin Dialogue Group agreed to a number of proposals towards the establishment of a new museum in Benin City (Benin Royal Museum) where a permanent display of Benin art works from European and Nigerian museums will be shown,” the statement said.

Some of the discussion points include, “the development of the new museum in Benin City to which all the listed European and Nigerian partners will contribute from their collections on a rotational basis. The agreement is that all parties will work to a three-year time frame for the delivery of a permanent display of the historic arts of Benin, including some of the most iconic pieces.”

“The Benin Dialogue Group established a Steering Committee composed of representatives from European museums (Museum am Rothenbaum, Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK); Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin; British Museum London; NWVW, the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria, Edo State Government and the Royal Court of Benin. The Steering Committee is formed to drive forward the decisions made in Leiden by the Benin Dialogue Group,” the statement added.

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