Bayelsa Times

Oba is the cultural, spiritual owner of Benin artifacts, says Smithsonian Institute

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Smithsonian Institution, USA, has affirmed to the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare 11, that the Benin artifacts held in the National Museum of African Art belong to Benin kingdom.

The institution made the affirmation in a letter to the monarch that was signed by its Secretary, Lonnie Bunch 111.

The institution says it is aware of the interests of the Royal Court in the Benin artifacts held in our collection.

It says after thorough provenance research, the Smithsonian has determined that a number of artifacts held in the National Museum of African Art originated from the British invasion of the Benin Kingdom and the looting of the Royal Palace in 1897.

The institution also said that it  recognise that the great grandfather, Oba Ovonramwen and the Benin Kingdom were the cultural and spiritual owners of these traditional artifacts.

”In November, the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Ngaire Blankenberg met with Prince Aghatise Erediauwa to discuss this topic.

“It is our intention to transfer legal ownership of these objects as soon as possible to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, as the representatives of the Nigerian government in matters pertaining to cultural patrimony,” the institution said.

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