Going Underground on RTJun 21, 2021
We speak to Barnaby Phillips, author of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes, a colonial-era theft of some of the most awe-inspiring art in Africa from modern day Nigeria. Phillips discusses the ongoing battle for formerly colonised countries to get their national treasures back from colonial powers.
STATEMENT FROM THE BRITISH MUSEUM: The British Museum works in partnership with colleagues, communities and organisations across the world. We are currently collaborating with The Legacy Restoration Trust (LRT) in Nigeria and Adjaye Associates on major new archaeology project, linked to the construction of the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA). This innovative collaboration will investigate the archaeology of the Kingdom of Benin, including archaeological remains buried below the proposed site of the new museum. The EMOWAA will reunite Benin artworks from international collections. The Benin Dialogue Group, of which the BM is a member, will work with EMOWAA to help develop this new permanent display of Benin works of art. The devastation and plunder wreaked upon Benin City during the British military expedition in 1897 is fully acknowledged by the Museum and the circumstances around the acquisition of Benin objects explained in gallery panels and on the Museum’s website. We believe the strength of the British Museum collection resides in its breadth and depth, allowing millions of visitors an understanding of the cultures of the world and how they interconnect over time – whether through trade, migration, conquest, or peaceful exchange.