The British Museum will take part in a European summit to discuss the return of art seized from the Benin kingdom, now part of southern Nigeria, by a British punitive expedition in 1897 as “reparations” after it defied the British empire by imposing customs duties. The museums taking part in the Benin dialogue group hope to establish a permanent display in Benin City, Nigeria, using items rotated from a consortium of reputable institutions. The negotiations involve authorities from Nigeria and the neighbouring country of Benin. [...] The fate of hundreds of [...] “Benin bronzes”, housed in institutions such as the British Museum, will be discussed by curators when the group meets next year at the Netherlands’ National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. [...] European curators and their west African counterparts are also keen to establish a legal framework that would guarantee the artefacts immunity from seizure in Nigeria. [...] the largest collection of antiquities from the 19th-century looting of Benin was in the Ethnological Museum of Berlin, while the second largest was in the British Museum.Ben Quinn, 'Western museums try to forge deal with west Africa to return the Benin bronzes', Guardian 12 August 2017
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
|Robe woven circa late 1800s-early 1900s|
The process of donating the blanket started when a daughter in the donating family noticed a similar blanket in her AP art history textbook. It was featured there as an important cultural piece as well as significant in the history of art. She then vigorously (and successfully) lobbied her parents to return it to its appropriate owners, the family wrote. [...] The donors purchased the robe in the 1990s, and at the time, an opinion on the piece was offered by Bill Holm, a nationally-recognized expert on Northwest Coast art and formline design. Holm in 1995 estimated it was made around the turn of the century or perhaps in the early 1900s and noted it was very similar to two robes featured in the book The Chilkat Robe by George T. Emmons. Emmons thought the robes in the book depicted an osprey or thunderbird standing with outspread wings, but the noted anthropologist John Swanton believed they depicted a beaver with alder - its food, Holm wrote. Holm said he tended to favor the interpretation of a bird, rather than a beaver, but that “either interpretation can be defended.” A Northwest Coast art expert who studied a photo of the robe on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s behalf thought it might depict a Raven because the beak is not curved. [...] Holm also noted that the robe was in good condition and showed little fading. [...] The robe will be stored in Sealaska Heritage’s climate-controlled vault and made available to weavers for study.'Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research and advocacy that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee'.