Sunday, 23 June

Stolen Asante artefacts from British and V&A museums now home

Asantehene inspecting the Artefacts

After 150 years, a significant portion of the artifacts looted from the Palace of Asantehene Kofi Karikari in Kumasi during the 1874 Sagrenti War have finally returned home.

Recently, a total of 32 gold and silver objects, comprising 15 from the British Museum and 17 from the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), arrived in Ghana on April 9, 2024.

The Chief negotiator representing the Manhyia Palace confirmed this in a statement. The return of these items, facilitated by the directors of the British Musuem and V&A, Sir Mark Jones and Dr. Tristram Hunt, respectively, along with Chief negotiator Mr. Ivor Agyeman-Duah, marks a significant step.

However, due to legal constraints outlined in the British Museum Act 1963, these artifacts have been returned on a long-term loan basis, initially for three years, with the possibility of renewal. Plans are underway to exhibit these artifacts, along with seven others from the Fowler Museum, at the Manhyia Museum.

The museum will be temporarily closed for three weeks for installation works and encasing of the returned objects. This collection, including those permanently given by the Fowler Museum, will form the centerpiece of an international exhibition titled "Homecoming - Adversity and Commemoration," scheduled to open to the public after the museum's reopening on May 1, 2024.

The reopening event will be officiated by Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and attended by dignitaries including directors, curators, and trustees from the BM and V&A, journalists from prominent media outlets, government officials, UNESCO representatives, and members of the diplomatic community.

Additionally, two significant books will be unveiled during the occasion. One, titled "A History of Manhyia Palace Museum: Inaugural and Other Objects," authored by Agyeman-Duah with a foreword by Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, will delve into 200 years of museology in Asante. The second book, "Museums, the Ownership of Cultural Property and Restitution," authored by Prof. Malcolm McLeod, explores contemporary reflections on Images of Ghana.

Finally, the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles officially and permanently handed over seven artifacts during the Kuntunkuni Durbar on February 8, 2024, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Sagrenti War.