"Stolen" Nigerian artwork returned to Lagos from Zurich gallery

The Walu gallery in Zurich has returned 44 pieces of "stolen" Nigerian artwork to the country's national museum in Lagos according to Nigeria's newspaper, The Guardian.

This content was published on June 2, 2001 - 22:29

The artwork arrived in Nigeria on May 30 and is currently being inspected by the museum's archives before being put on display.

The collection of returned pieces includes bronze figures from Benin, Nok earthenware and stone sculptures.

The repatriation of the artwork comes two months after a Nigerian delegation from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments travelled to Switzerland to visit the gallery and sign papers for the release of the collection so that it could be brought back to Nigeria.

It formed part of a wider campaign by Nigerian officials to bring back stolen artwork from various European galleries including ones in Paris, the Hague and London.

An employee from the Zurich gallery reportedly said that they were waiting for the political situation to stabilise in Nigeria before returning the artwork.

According to a Nigerian Official, the country's Culture Minister launched a campaign in May to promote awareness of Nigeria's cultural heritage and history, of which artwork forms an integral part.

He added that improvements in national security would ensure that Nigerian artwork would be prevented from finding its way abroad through illicit channels in future.

The Zurich collection was flown to the city of Lagos on the same plane as a delegation from the Swiss Economics Ministry who are on a six-day official visit of the country.

The delegation was joined by the Swiss Economics Minister, Pascal Couchepin, on Saturday.

Couchepin will meet the Nigerian President, Olusegun Obusanjo on Monday afternoon.

swissinfo with agencies

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