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British Museum welcomes gift by Nigerian artist, but refuses to return looted bronze

A bronze plaque created by Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro. Credit: Reuters/Tife Owolabi/File Photo

Nigerian artist, Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro gave the British Museum a bronze plaque, hoping the museum would exchange it for the looted bronze. Although the museum accepted the gift, they declined the swap.

Zeickner-Okoro believed if the museum did return the looted bronze, that it would suggest that the museum recognised the city's modern-day culture.

The Nigerian artist told Reuters that although the museum had refused to return the looted bronze, he was happy that they accepted the gift. He said:

"It’s disappointing but this is the first step". - Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro

The Benin Bronze artwork has been on display in many European museums, but in the past years many have criticised these museums for still keeping these sculptures as they were looted.

Zeickner-Okoro wanted to offer modern artwork that did not have a history of looting behind it, which would allow for these museums to morally exhibit the artwork.

The artist also told Reuters that the British Museum is also planning on buying artwork from other Ahiamwen artists. The Ahiamwen is a new guild of bronze casters and artist from Benin city.

Zeickner-Okoro is one of the founding members of Ahiamwen, who is happy that other artists will have the chance to present their work as well.


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