The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has set modalities for the establishment of a Museum Trust for the Benin Royal Museum to be responsible for the planned Museum, its operation and custodian of its collections.
This was disclosed during the sixth meeting of the Benin Dialogue Group in Benin City, held in Benin City, at the instance of the governor.
In a statement, the Benin Dialogue Group welcomed the initiative of the state Government to “create a museum trust that would be responsible for the planned Museum, its operation and be a custodian for the collection. It recommended next steps, including: incorporate the museum trust; create a Board of Trustees and Advisory Council; appoint a project team to develop the new Museum with support of the Benin Dialogue Group members.”
The group is a multi-lateral collaborative working group that brings together museum directors and delegates from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom with representatives of the Edo State Government, the Royal Court of Benin and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.
Obaseki said, “It has been my pleasure to host the 6th Meeting of the Benin Dialogue Group in the ancient city of Benin, home of so many priceless artefacts that are on display in museums around the world. I am particularly gratified by the significant progress made during this meeting, and look forward to the opening of the new Museum in the near future. Edo State remains committed to this objective, and will definitely do all possible to ensure the realisation of this vision.”
The group said its central objective is to work together with the state and Benin Royal Court to establish a museum in Benin City that will facilitate a permanent display, reuniting Benin works of art dispersed in collections around the world. During the meeting, the Benin Dialogue Group discussed the new Royal Museum in Benin City and joint exhibition planning.
Sir David Adjaye led discussion concerning the architectural vision for the museum in Benin City.
He assured that the Benin Dialogue Group will continue working on sharing information concerning collections of Benin works of art as a basis for developing content, training, joint activities and initiatives to facilitate the creation of the Royal Museum. This he said constituted a significant advance on the plans made for the Royal Museum during the Benin Dialogue Group in Leiden in 2018.
The group acknowledged the looting of Benin in 1897, noting that many of the museum collections were assembled as a result of the event.
According to them, “We are very pleased that we can go forward with the permanent display in the Royal Museum in Benin City that reunites works of art with people in their place of origin. The next Benin Dialogue Meeting will take place in London in 2020 at the British Museum, followed in 2021 at the Museum am Rothenbaum, Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK) in Hamburg.”
HRH Prince Gregory Iduorobo Akenzua, Enogie of Evbobanosa and Professor Barbara Plankensteiner, Museum am Rothenbaum, Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK), Hamburg said in their presentation, “Speaking on behalf of the Benin Dialogue Group, we are immensely grateful and appreciative for the generosity and warm hospitality of Edo State Government in their hosting of this event and our group. We are deeply impressed by the level of investment and commitment to developing the new Royal Museum. We are very confident that this unique collaborative project has taken a crucial step forward. We will continue to work together to ensure we fulfil our common goal.”
Participants at the meeting included the Edo State Government, Nigeria; the Royal Court of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria; National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abuja, Nigeria; Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna, Austria; Ethnologisches Museum, State Museums of Berlin, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin, Germany; Museum am Rothenbaum, Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK), Hamburg, Germany.
Others are Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Museum für Vӧlkerkunde Dresden und GRASSI Museum für Vӧlkerkunde zu Leipzig, Germany;Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany; Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, Leiden, The Netherlands; National Museums of World Culture, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; British Museum, London, UK, and Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.