A few weeks after the Jesus College Cambridge officially handed over the paperwork returning the Benin Bronze Cockerel to the Oba of Benin, the National Gallery of Arts, Washington DC, USA, announced plans to return a bronzed Benin Cockerel to Nigeria.
The Art Newspaper reports that the gallery said it will return the sole Benin artefact in its possession based on a mutually agreeable schedule and terms. The cockerel was part of the Benin artefacts looted during the 1897 invasion of the Oba of Benin’s Royal Palace and scattered around the world, and was donated to the gallery in 1955.
Benin artworks are held by over 160 international museums across including the US. But many museums are planning the return of the Benin artworks to Nigeria, with Germany and Nigeria signing a memorandum of understanding to repatriate over 1,100 Benin bronze works in the former’s possession, with the first repatriation envisaged in the first quarter of 2022.
Likewise, two British universities restituted two looted artefacts back to Nigeria: The University of Aberdeen, handed over the bronze head of an Oba/King, and Jesus College Cambridge returned a cockerel similar to that of the Washington DC’s.
American museums are taking similar steps to repatriate Benin artworks in their possession, with The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art removing it Benin bronzes from display and planning their return to Nigeria. The University of California’ Fowler Museum has also said it plans talks with the Nigerian authorities on the future of 18 objects in its collection from the Benin Kingdom.