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Germany displays Benin Bronzes despite call for their return


A new museum, the Humboldt Forum, is opening in a reconstructed royal palace in the centre of Berlin on Wednesday – although the official opening is for now being held online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But it is controversial.

The museum will house art from all over the world – including some of the Benin Bronzes, sculptures which were stolen from Nigeria at the end of the 19th Century.

The Humboldt Forum, which dominates the centre of Berlin, is supposed to showcase global culture and become a symbol of tolerance and diversity.

But the museum has found itself in the middle of a row about looted art and colonialism.

Some of the key exhibits are the Benin Bronzes, from Nigeria, valuable sculptures looted by British soldiers in 1897.

The Nigerian government has called for them to be returned to Nigeria.

Pressure has been growing within Germany too.

Historians and anti-racism activists in Germany say the museum needs to do more to explain where these treasures come from and how they got to Europe.

Museum officials in Berlin say they are investigating the matter.

But so far Germany’s government hasn’t responded to Nigeria’s request.