The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced plans to send three artefacts back to Nigeria.
CNN reported that two of the works, a pair of 16th-century Benin Court brass plaques of a “Warrior Chief” and “Junior Court Official,” were donated to the museum in 1991 by the art dealer Klaus Perls and his wife Dolly.
The third, a 14th-century “Ife Head,” was recently offered to the museum for purchase by another collector.
According to the report, the museum decided to return the works after conducting research in collaboration with the British Museum, with input from the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).
The two plaques had been part of a 153-piece collection of African royal treasures given to the museum by the Perlses 30 years ago.
Among the collection were brass figures, carved elephant ivory, masks, jewelleries and musical instruments.
According to the museum, the plaques were taken in 1897 from the Benin Royal Palace, by British military forces and then entered the British Museum’s collection.
Around 1950 or 1951, the London institution transferred them with 24 other items to the National Museum in Lagos.
The works were somehow removed from that museum “at an unknown date and under unclear circumstances,” the Met said in a press release.
They were sold on the international art market, where they were acquired by Perls. Both plaques have now been deaccessioned by the Met.
Several European museums have also been returning art treasures back to Nigeria.