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Ethnographic Museum

Benin Dues. Dealing with Looted Royal Treasures

From 24 August 2024

In 1897, British troops attacked the kingdom of Benin in present-day Nigeria. They ousted the king, burned down the capital and looted thousands of royal artefacts from the palace. In Europe, the objects were sold on the art market as "Benin Bronzes". In 1940, Benin artefacts also entered the collection of the Ethnographic Museum.

Today, these objects are an opportunity for us to enter into new relationships with Nigerian communities, to give them access to their cultural heritage and to recognise their claims to ownership.

The exhibition, which is based on research by the Swiss Benin Initiative, was developed with Nigerian experts from Benin City and diaspora groups in Zurich.

Exhibition opening on Friday, 23 August 2024, 6 pm. Welcome!

Rider from the kingdom of Benin and curator Alexis Malefakis.
Does the head belong to the rider? Fragments of the cultural heritage of the kingdom of Benin are scattered in over 130 museums around the world. Photo: Kathrin Leuenberger, 2024.

Weiterführende Informationen


Alexis Malefakis, curator

Alice Hertzog, curator (on parental leave)