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U.S. museums are trying to return hundreds of looted Benin treasures

Via The Washington Post,

“One of the first displays in the Penn Museum’s Africa galleries features a red panel with the heading “The Oba’s Palace: Royal Objects Taken by Force.” Inside the glass case, an 18th-century carved ivory armlet sits next to a 100-year-old letter written by the brother of a member of the British forces that attacked the palace in 1897, in what is now Nigeria. The letter offers to sell to the museum some of the objects looted in the violent siege.

Added when the decades-old exhibit was updated in 2019, the archival letter is essential to the new interpretation of the galleries, according to lead curator Tukufu Zuberi.

“We wanted to show that the archive was as important as the objects,” Zuberi said. “It is in the archive that we can document the history of the object from its maker in Africa to the Penn Museum. This letter clearly shows the story of several objects that were stolen from the Benin palace during the British pillage.”

More here.

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