US museums return trove of looted treasures to Nigeria
A U.S. museum is returning a vast collection of valuable artifacts to Nigeria just a month after American museum leaders refused to accept millions of dollars in compensation for the treasures looted by soldiers during Nigeria’s civil war.
The Nigerian government last month agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of compensation for the loot to the American Cultural Programs to help alleviate the country’s economic impact because of a lack of museum space and education programs.
The U.S. government-backed museum’s commitment to return the artifacts comes one month after museum leaders said their refusal to accept compensation as a whole was a political decision due to their desire to preserve the country’s cultural identity.
“This act of generosity is particularly fitting in light of the fact that the museum was first conceived of during the colonial era as an outreach to other countries seeking to secure their heritage,” said John M. Sill, president of the American Association of Museums. “This museum has, from the start, acted with humility, understanding and consideration for all nations.”
The New York-based American Association of Museums is a Washington-based group that helps members with issues ranging from financial sustainability to public relations, said Sill.
The U.S. Cultural Programs said it will accept the Nigerian compensation and help the country recover from the looting incident and develop programs that would aid museums everywhere.
The U.S. Cultural Programs said it is returning the collection of artifacts to the Nigerian government, and the museum expects to start the process of identifying the artifacts shortly.
Since the looting incident, Nigeria has been trying to develop programs to address the aftermath and educate the younger generations about what happened.
“We’ve seen this movie before,” Sill said. “Unfortunately, we are seeing the aftermath.”
The Cultural Programs said it will use the donated artifacts to help teach kids about the impact of war, its aftermath and how wars affect museums.
“At the same time, Museums need new artifacts to enhance their value