Museums Are Filled With Stolen African Art. Is It Time To Return It? : 1A "Part of the reason the Benin royal art is so much at the forefront of this conversation is because it's one of the best documented examples of colonial appropriation," says Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor of African art at Princeton.

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Museums Are Filled With Stolen African Art. Is It Time To Return It?

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Museums Are Filled With Stolen African Art. Is It Time To Return It?

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Museums Are Filled With Stolen African Art. Is It Time To Return It?

Museums Are Filled With Stolen African Art. Is It Time To Return It?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/912001044/913198064" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Plaques that form part of the Benin Bronzes are displayed at The British Museum in London. The Bronzes were stolen from the African country of Benin by British troops in 1897. Dan Kitwood/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images hide caption

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Dan Kitwood/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Plaques that form part of the Benin Bronzes are displayed at The British Museum in London. The Bronzes were stolen from the African country of Benin by British troops in 1897.

Dan Kitwood/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

This summer, protesters across the world tore down statues of colonizers and confederates. And they turned their gaze to museums, too.

In Foreign Policy, journalist Nosmot Gbadamosi wrote about an unsuccessful attempt to remove a 19th-century South Sudanese funeral pole from a Paris museum last June. The demonstrators said the item was looted during colonization—and needed to be returned.

The violent theft of thousands of works of African art by mostly-Western powers is well-documented—but the pieces remain in the collections of Western museums.

Is it time to return Africa's looted art? And how should that process play out?

To talk about these questions and more, we spoke with Dan Hicks, professor of Contemporary Archaeology and curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford; Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor of African and Africa Diaspora Art, Princeton University; and Deborah Mack, interim director, National Museum of African Art.

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Correction Sept. 17, 2020

An earlier version of this post did not attribute a line to Nosmot Gbadamosi, writing for Foreign Policy. We regret the error and have updated our copy.