‘Loot:Britain and the Benin Bronzes’ by Barnaby Phillips


We’ve heard about the horror of the Benin Punitive Expedition, we know about the looting that took place in February 1897, and you may be aware of the first auctions that took place in the UK in May of that same year to supposedly cover the costs of the expedition.

But how much do we know about what happened after, about what’s happened to Benin Bronzes in recent history?

In April this year, the deeply researched ‘Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes’, was published. In it, Barnaby Phillips, a former Africa correspondent for the BBC and Al Jazeera, takes us on a journey. The book describes the collision between the British Empire and the Benin Empire and everything that flowed from it. Leveraging his journalistic and investigative experience, Barnaby uncovers the distribution of the Bronzes amongst the world’s great museums and private collections.

In this talk, Barnaby reveals the people of today’s Benin City, the private market for Benin Bronzes, the reality of the British Museum and the national museums of Nigeria, and the lessons we must learn if restitution is to succeed.

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