Though referred to as Benin Bronzes, these artworks are actually made of many different materials including wood, ivory, ceramic, and yes—bronze. A little under 200 of these sculptures are portrait busts of the deceased kings, or Obas, of Benin. Some of these date back to the twelfth century.
Plans have been set by German officials to send their share of Benin objects—about 530 artworks, 440 of which are bronzes—to Nigeria for eventual display at the Edo Museum of West African Art. While the museum, which will stand where the Palace of Benin once stood, will not be fully constructed until 2025, a center for study is set to be erected by the end of this year. Though it seems that transference of ownership is expected, nothing has been formally decided.
Governor Obaseki said in a March 18 press release, “Yes, the objects are from Benin but today they are global. So, the idea of having a universal display is something that we cannot run away from.”