At least 114 objects exhibited in Dutch museums were stolen from Nigeria
The art collections of several Dutch museums, including the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, contain looted art from Nigeria. This was concluded by researchers from the Museum of World Cultures after two years of investigation.
It concerns at least 114 objects that were looted by British soldiers in 1897 from the palace of the king of the Benin Empire in the present-day Nigerian city of Benin. A spokesman for the National Museum of World Cultures confirms this in a report published by the national newspaper Trouw.
The objects belong to the 'Benin Bronzes' and are now part of the collection of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal, and the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, which together form the Museum of World Cultures.
Returning looted art
The Nigerian state would like to have the objects returned, including tusks and metal heads of kings. Whether that will happen is still unclear. Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven sent a plan to the House of Representatives in January that should regulate the return of cultural heritage to their countries of origin, but it is up to the next cabinet to decide on that plan.
The Museum of World Cultures is working with the Nigerian government and European museums on the construction of a museum in Benin City. From 2025, objects from the past will be exhibited there.
The report on the looted art will be accessible from next week via the museum's site.