Members of the British Punitive Expedition with Palace Art


This file appears in: Oba's Palace, Benin City, Nigeria
Members of the British Punitive Expedition with Palace Art
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 1998.208.15.11 Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

This photo shows several members of the British forces inside a palace courtyard, surrounded by many of the plaques, altar sculptures, and brass heads. These items were subsequently packed up. Some were held in private hands by members of the invading forces, and were sold at the Nigerian coast or brought back to Britain for auction or kept. Others became the property of the Foreign Office, which loaned over two hundred to the British Museum, subsequently gifting them. The Foreign Office sold others to museums, dealers, and private collectors. Many of the works in private hands eventually were donated to the British Museum and other institutions. The British Museum has the largest collection of Benin art in the world, with Berlin's Ethnological Museum's holdings a close second. Various efforts to pressure museums to repatriate these objects are gaining momentum, although it is unclear whether they would be returned to the Oba or be considered national patrimony, becoming the property of Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments.


This file appears in: Oba's Palace, Benin City, Nigeria