The Met has deaccessioned the plaques and will deliver them to the director general of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abba Isa Tijani, when he is able to travel to New York City, the museum said in a statement.
They will likely be displayed in the planned Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City, which is being designed by the architect David Adjaye. The museum’s current target is to open in 2025, though the timeline has been pushed back several times.
Despite their name, many of the bronzes are actually made from ivory, brass and wood. While Europe’s museums have had discussions with Nigeria for years, American institutions have only recently begun to act on the bronzes in their collections.
“Nigeria enjoins other museums to take a cue from this,” Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture of Nigeria, said in a statement. “The art world can be a better place if every possessor of cultural artifacts considers the rights and feelings of the dispossessed.”