From left, a 19th-century terra-cotta head; a brass figure that was part of an altar dedicated in 1914; a 4-foot tall wooden figure that was in the Oron Museum until at least 1970.
When I read the news that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was returning 8 looted antiquities to Nigeria, I could not believe my eyes or the title of the article until I read the full report and was convinced that it was genuine.(2)
Commemorative Head: 1897, Stolen from Benin by Cpt Guy Burrows; 2 May 1898, trafficked by Norman Burrows, for £18 to Lt.-Gen Augustus Henry Pitt-Rivers, England; kept at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Farnham, and trafficked upon collection dispersal.
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1. Ekpo Eyo, From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art, 2010, Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, Abuja. p.23.
2. Martin Bailey, ‘Boston museum returns works to Nigeria’
Museum of Fine Arts returns artifacts to Nigeria
Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts Returns Nigerian artifacts
The Boston MFA Returns 8 Looted Antiquities to Nigeria http://artery.wbur.org/2014/06/26/mfa-returns-antiquities-nigeria
The MFA Returns Stolen Art to Native Nigeria
3. K. Opoku, ‘Blood Antiquities in Respectable Havens: Looted Benin Artefacts Donated to American Museum’. http://www.modernghana.com/news/405992/1/blood-antiquities-in-respectable-havens-looted-ben.html
4. K.Opoku, ‘Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums: Singular Failure of an Arrogant Imperialist Project’,
6. K. Opoku, ‘Blood Antiquities in Respectable Havens’
7. K Opoku, ‘What we understand by ‘Restitution’, ‘
8. K. Opoku, ‘Benin Plan of Action(2): Will this Miserable Project be the Last Word on the Looted Benin Artefacts?
9. See attached annex ‘Locations of Nigerian Masterpieces in USA and Europe’.
10. ‘South Bend parishioners grasping for understanding following theft of statues of saints’therepublic.com/view/story/6bfd0700611f448992541470e0deb862/IN--Stolen-Saints
‘Vicar describes theft of 400-year-old Bible from Datchet church as sacrilege’ windsorexpress.co.uk/News/Areas/Datchet/Vicar-describes-theft-of-400-year-old-Bible-from-Datchet-church-as-sacrilege-26062014.htm
‘Stolen Objects from Greek Churches Exhibited Abroad’http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/06/29/stolen-objects-from-greek-churches-exhibited-abroad/
‘2 antique ivory images in Pampanga church stolen’, newsinfo.inquirer.net/615773/2-antique-ivory-images-in-pampanga-church-stolen
ANNEX: LOCATIONS OF NIGERIAN MASTERPIECES IN USA AND EUROPE
Those interested in knowing where Nigerian masterpieces are may consult the following list compiled from indications in the last book by the great Ekpo Eyo, Shrines to Showcases:
Masterpieces of Nigerian Art, 2010, Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, Abuja, We mention here only those locations mentioned in Eyo’s book. http://www.modernghana.com/news/312372/1/excellence-and-erudition-ekpo-eyos-masterpieces-of.html
There are many more locations of Nigerian art in Western museums which are not mentioned here.
Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France.
Musée Barbier-Müller, Geneva, Switzerland.
Dept. of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland, US British Museum, London, United Kingdom.
Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, USA.
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institutions, Washington, USA.
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, USA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.
Museum Rietberg, Zürich, Switzerland.
Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, USA.
Volkerkunde Museum, Vienna, Austria.
Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, London, United Kingdom.New Orleans Museum of Arts, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.
Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut, New Haven, USA.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA.
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Idiana, USA.