The return of the artefacts encountered highlights the legal and ethical risks of museums

Law360 (July 12, 2021, 5:21 p.m. EDT) – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recently made headlines with the announcement of its decision[1] to return three artifacts to Nigeria: a pair of 16th century brass plaques from the Benin court depicting a warrior chief and a subordinate court official, and a 14th century Ife head.

The move follows similar announcements from the Scottish University of Aberdeen and the German Museum of Ethnologisches in Berlin, and is indicative of a growing repatriation movement.

The Met’s decision signals a move towards conscientious oversight rooted in ethical concerns. However, the complex US regulations governing the trade in works of art and cultural property often make repatriation a legal matter …

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