By John Ikani
Nigeria’s Consulate General in New York has taken custody of three Benin and Ife artefacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET).
The Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abba Tijjani, received the artefacts from the museum in the company of Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Lot Egopija.
The artefacts are two 16th-century Benin brass plaques and one 14th-century Ife brass head.
MET currently houses about 160 works of art from Nigeria, mostly donated by individuals who were said to have acquired them in the art market.
Tijjani, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MET, commended the museum for returning the artefacts to Nigeria.
“We are looking forward to collaborating with MET now that we are friends and we understand each other. We want to see how we can work together,” he stated.
“We have about 52 museums across the country under the commission, and we have 65 monuments and sites and staff working in the museums that will require modern training.”
He asked other museums in possession of Nigerian artefacts to follow MET’s exemplary gesture.
Also speaking, Maz Hollein, MET Director, said the shared commitment to future exchanges of programmes would form part of the MoU.
“We have we had long lasting relationships, the museum is committed to a responsible process in collaborating in areas of standards as well as to study works that have been in our collection,” Hollein said.
“It’s an ongoing effort to learn to exchange and to find the right solutions.”
Hollein said MET will be pleased to initiate the return of Nigeria’s works and remain “committed to transparency and the responsible collecting of cultural property”.
The two 16th-century Benin brass plaques and the 14th-century Ife brass head were later taken to the consulate general to be returned to Nigeria at a later date.