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Germany, Nigeria sign MOU on museum cooperation, return of Benin bronzes

Nigeria and Germany on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on museum cooperation.

The MOU was signed between the Director General of the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Prof. Abba Isa Tijani, and the Director General for Culture and
Communication of the German Federal Foreign Office, Dr. Andreas Görgen, during the visit of the
German delegation to Abuja.

Acsording to a statement by the Embassy of Germany in Abuja and signed by Bernt-Michael Gelpke, First Secretary, Political Affairs, Press Affairs, the German delegation include Prof. Dr. Barbara Plankensteiner, Director of the Museum at the Rothenbaum – Cultures and Arts of the World in Hamburg (MARKK) and Spokesperson for the Benin Dialogue Group, as well as Prof. Dr. Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

According to the statement by the Embassy of Germany, “after an initial visit to Nigeria in May 2021, a visit by a Nigerian delegation to Berlin in July 2021 and the current visit to Abuja, the MoU stipulates that the return of Benin bronzes from German museums will be embedded in a broad collaboration in the areas of archeology, museum facilities and museum cooperation.

“Both sides affirmed that the process leading to returns of Benin bronzes will begin in the second
quarter of 2022 with transfers of ownership. To this end, a framework agreement is to be
concluded in December 2021.

“Both sides also agreed that Benin bronzes will continue to be exhibited in German museums and
that there will be cooperation on exhibition projects.”

German Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory, said: “I am delighted that the German delegation
achieved so much progress. This underlines again our commitment to the Nigerian – German
cooperation in this field. We commend our Nigerian partners for their cooperation and are looking
forward to the next steps.“

The head of the German delegation, Dr. Andreas Görgen, emphasized: “I am very pleased that,
after the previous meetings, we were able to create a reliable basis for the return of Benin
bronzes and for further cooperation. I am sure that our joint engagement will put Nigerian –
German cultural relations on a new foundation.”

The statement noted that the next meeting on the implementation of the MOU is scheduled for December 2021 in Germany.

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