After decades of pleading for their return, the famed bronze artifacts of the ancient Kingdom of Benin, Nigeria, will be making its departure from Germany next year.

An exhibition of the Benin Bronzes in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP IMAGES

The ‘bronzes’ though speechless speak of a violent conquest of the Benin Kingdom and looting of valuable items by British colonial forces in 1897 – read more about the history here.

German Culture Minister, Monika Grutters hints at this in a joint statement issued with the foreign ministry and German museums.

In addition to the greatest possible transparency, we aim for substantial returns. In this way we would like to contribute to understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of the people who were robbed of their cultural treasures during the colonial era

Monika Grutters

Display of Benin Bronzes at the British Museum, Photo by Joyofmuseums – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

While some artefacts were spread across several museums, the British Museum still houses the largest collection. Germany’s agreement with Nigeria only holds for artifacts in the country.


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