Nigeria’s Consulate General in New York has taken custody of three Benin and Ife artefacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abba Tijjani, received the artefacts from the museum in the company of consul general Lot Egopija.
The 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.
Mr Tijjani, who later signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MET, commended the museum for returning the Benin and Ife artefacts to Nigeria and urged other museums in possession of Nigerian artefacts to follow its exemplary gesture.
“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.”
Similarly, Mr Tijjani called for collaboration between MET and NCMM on exhibition, scholarship and capacity building of the staff and getting the required curators.
Also speaking, MET Director, Max Hollein, said the shared commitment to future exchanges of programmes would form part of the MoU.
“We have 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. It’s an ongoing effort to learn to exchange and to find the right solutions,” he said.
The two 16th-century Benin brass plaques and the 14th-century Ife brass head were later taken to the consulate general to be sent return to Nigeria at a later date.