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National Museum of Scotland to return looted treasures stolen by British Imperial armies

© Design Pics Inc/ShutterstockOne of the Benin Bronze plaques which originally decorated the royal palace of the Benin Kingdom in modern-day Nigeria.
One of the Benin Bronze plaques which originally decorated the royal palace of the Benin Kingdom in modern-day Nigeria.

Historical artefacts taken by Britain’s imperial armies could be sent back after a new strategy was brought in by a leading museum.

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh has long been against returning objects in its collection. However, the museum recently introduced a scheme for examining requests asking for the permanent transfer of collection objects to non-UK claimants.

The move will put further pressure on the British Museum, which is already facing demands to return artefacts looted during the imperial era.

Nigeria has asked for the return of the Benin Bronzes, more than 900 of which are housed in the British Museum’s collection. Greece has pushed for the return of the Elgin Marbles, something which Boris Johnson ruled out this year.

The issue will cause problems for George Osborne, the former chancellor, who was announced as the new chairman of the British Museum this week.

The new policy was formally adopted by the Scottish museum’s board of trustees. It stated: “In exceptional circumstances we will consider a request made by claimants located outside the UK to transfer a specific object or group of objects where the request meets certain criteria.”