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Call to return stolen historical art from Africa currently in National Museum of Scotland

© Alamy Stock PhotoA Benin face covering dating from the 16th Century
A Benin face covering dating from the 16th Century

The National Museum of Scotland is under mounting pressure to speed the return of famous artefacts looted from Africa.

It has been urged to repatriate its collection of Benin bronzes amid a groundswell of support for making amends for historical wrongdoing.

Thousands of brass plaques and carved ivory tusks were looted by British soldiers in 1897 from Benin, a city in Nigeria, before being distributed to museums and private collections. The National Museum of Scotland has 74 objects in its collection, including a mask, altar piece and plaque.

It is now working towards a “major reunion of the Benin works of art” in collaboration with museums across Europe and in Nigeria.

Aberdeen University has already announced it is to repatriate a sculpture which it bought in 1957.

Neil Curtis, the university’s head of museums and special collections, described it as having been “blatantly looted”, adding: “It became clear we had to do something.”

“Holding on to stolen African objects, hiding them away, is plain wrong”: Author says lockdown gives Britain’s museums chance to address pillaged colonial treasures