The consulate-general of Nigeria in New York has taken possession of three Benin and Ife artefacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in the United States.
According to NAN, Abba Tijjani, director-general of national commission for museums and monuments (NCMM), received the artefacts from the museum in the company of Lot Egopija, consul-general of Nigeria in New York.
The artefacts are two 16th-century Benin brass plaques and one 14th-century Ife brass head.
Tijjani, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MET, commended the museum for returning the artefacts to Nigeria.
He asked other museums in possession of Nigerian artefacts to follow MET’s exemplary gesture.
“We are looking forward to collaborating with the MET because we cannot exist in an island, for example, the museum cannot be working in Nigeria without collaborating with partners outside the country,” Tijjani said.
“So, we are looking forward to collaborating with MET now that we are friends and we understand each other and we want to see how we can work together.
“We have about 52 museums across the country under the commission, and we have 65 monuments and sites and staff working in the museums will require modern training.’’
He also called for collaboration between MET and NCMM on exhibition, scholarship and capacity building of staff and getting required curators.
“Nigeria is very passionate about the way it exhibits its artefacts and we feel that it will be good if we collaborate and rob minds when it comes to joint exhibitions,” he added.
“There is a need for us to exhibit our works in a way that we understand it and we want people to understand these artefacts too.”
Also speaking, Maz Hollein, MET director, said the shared commitment to future exchanges of programmes would form part of the MoU.
“We have we 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,” Hollein said.
“It’s an ongoing effort to learn to exchange and to find the right solutions.”
Hollein said MET will be pleased to initiate the return of Nigeria’s works and remain “committed to transparency and the responsible collecting of cultural property”.