Via The Washington Post: March 8, 2022
As museums everywhere wrestle with what to do about artworks of questionable provenance in their possession, the Smithsonian is leading by example by agreeing to return its collection of Benin Kingdom Court Style artworks to their homeland in Nigeria. The groundbreaking move by the world’s largest cultural organization could set a new bar for how museums respond to changing attitudes about cultural heritage and the legacy of colonial violence.
The repatriation of the 39 priceless artworks is the cornerstone of an agreement that could be signed as early as next month, the head of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments told The Washington Post. It includes provisions for long-term loans, shared exhibitions and education programs in Nigeria. The deal reflects a fundamental change in the Smithsonian’s collecting practices.