Germany is the first European country to permanently return colonial looted art. This increases the pressure on other countries to follow suit. Pieter ter Keurs, Professor of Museums, Collections and Society and Academic Director of the Centre for Global Heritage and Development discusses the effect of the German example in de Volkskrant.
The pieces that Germany will be returning are the so-called 'Benin Bronzes'. These are bronze statues that were looted during a punitive expedition by the British colonial army in 1897 against the kingdom of Benin, in what is now Nigeria. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in talks with the Nigerian government about the restitution and hopes to finalize the agreement this summer. Ter Keurs calls the restitution of the images 'inescapable, because it concerns pieces that were so obviously obtained through violence that he sees no moral reason to keep them in Germany. He suspects that this restitution could encourage museums in other (European) countries to also refund looted art. "I don't know exactly how this particular case went, but I can imagine that there will be enormous pressure on the other museums if one museum decides to advance the troops."
Knowing more?The full article (in Dutch) with Pieter ter Keurs can be read on the website of de Volkskrant.