Contrary to expectations that Nigerian arts and artifacts looted by colonial officials to Europe and America will be returned, the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Arts in the United States of America, Johnnetta Cole, has said such stolen art would instead be used to “market African history and culture” abroad.
Cole said they would rather send the replicas of such artworks insisting that the museum has a comprehensive documentation of all artworks in their possession.
She also said it was important in their museum to honour where each and every object came from, adding: “If we are ever aware that an object is in our museum because it was stolen, we make enormous effort to protect them.
“We have two figures and we went to the government of Mali saying we were prepared to send them back.The government of Mali said thank you, we know where they are, we are proud that they are in the National Museum of African Art. If every work of African Art is returned to Africa, how will the rest of the world know about your arts, your culture and history?
“I cannot speak for the British Museum, I cannot speak for the museum in Belgium but I can speak for our museum that we have enormous respect and we have documents of every work. We do everything within our powers to use them well to tell your story. It is with enormous respect we document where every work has come from.”