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A New Museum to Bring the Benin Bronzes Home

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A new museum designed by Sir David Adjaye is to be built following the most extensive archaeological excavation ever undertaken in Benin City, Nigeria, raising hopes of a resolution to one of the world’s most controversial debates over looted museum artefacts. The kingdom of Benin, in what is now southern Nigeria and not to be confused with the modern-day country of Benin, was one of the most important and powerful pre-colonial states of west Africa. The Benin bronzes, some of Africa’s greatest treasures, were looted by British soldiers and sailors in 1897 and are mostly in western museums and private collections. The British Museum has more than 900 bronzes – arguably the most famous – and has long faced calls for them to be returned. Details have been announced of important steps towards these treasures being loaned or given back with the creation of the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), to be designed by Adjaye, the Tanzanian-born British architect of Ghanaian descent.

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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