Assures on work on Benin Royal Museum
With the confirmation by Jesus College of Cambridge University of the return of ‘Okukor’ statue, one of the artifacts looted from Benin in 1897, hope is rising for Governor Godwin Obaseki’s mission to secure repatriation of more famous Benin artworks in Europe and other parts of the world to be housed and exhibited at the Benin Royal Museum.
The governor upon assumption of the office promised to restore the dignity and heritage of Edo people with a retrieval of the state’s looted artworks held in museums and private collections across the world. He eventually partnered with the Oba of Benin and the Benin Dialogue Group, with the mission to pursue the repatriation of artworks stolen in the 1897 expedition by British soldiers at the Palace of the Oba of Benin and other notable art pieces from the Benin Kingdom.
In a statement by his Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, the governor said that the news of the return of the art piece is heartwarming and lends credence to his campaign to ensure that such artworks are returned to Benin City, their home, as the artworks hold significance for the identity, culture, and heritage of the people.
According to him, “We are very happy that Jesus College of Cambridge University is returning the artifact that was looted from the Oba of Benin Palace during the 1897 punitive expedition. This is a milestone in the campaign by the Benin Dialogue Group, which has been at the forefront of efforts to repatriate stolen artworks.
“Working with the Benin Dialogue Group, we have made some progress in the plan to construct the Benin Royal Museum, where we would hold the artworks for exhibition in collaboration with the palace of the Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin.
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He noted that the state government had committed $1.5 million dollars in its 2019 budget for the design and building of the Benin Royal Museum. “Efforts are also ongoing to create a museum trust, which will be responsible for the planned Museum, its operation and will also be a custodian of the collections,” he added.
The Benin Dialogue Group is a multi-lateral collaborative working group that brings together museum directors and delegates from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom to work with the Edo State Government and the Royal Court of Benin and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.