British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museums return Asante objects of 1874

The United Kingdom’s British Museum (BM) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) on Tuesday, April 9, returned to Ghana the thirty-two negotiated royal objects taken from the Palace in Kumasi during the Anglo-Asante Wars of the 19th century including items from the Sargrenti War of 1874.

Gold and silver regalia associated with the Asante royal court will be displayed at the Palace Museum as part of a long-term loan commitment by the V&A and the British Museum. Many of these items will be seen in Ghana for the first time in 150 years.

The hundred- and fifty-year-old mostly golden royal regalia on loan for an initial three years and renewable for another three have fifteen pieces from the BM and seventeen from the V&A.

This followed the final signing of official documentation in London two weeks ago by the directors of the BM and V&A, Sir Mark Jones and Dr Tristram Hunt and the chief negotiator, Mr Ivor Agyeman-Duah who represented and signed on behalf of the Manhyia Palace.

Their return is in the context of the silver jubilee year of the Asantehene Osei Tutu II who first opened the negotiations in May 2023 and is also connected to the 150th commemoration last February and the coming centenary of the return of the Asantehene Prempeh I from exile in Seychelles.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II would receive the objects and the specially designed Belgian cases in Kumasi. The subsequent closure of the Manhyia Palace Museum for three weeks would be for installation works and encasing of over forty returned objects including seven that have already been permanently given by the Fowler Museum of the University of California at Los Angeles.

These would collectively constitute the star objects of an international exhibition that would be opened to the public, Homecoming- Adversity and Commemoration.

The exhibition is being put together by a team of British- BM and V&A and Ghanaian -the Foundation for Contemporary Art curators, Manhyia Palace and KNUST and has as partners the British Airway, Fidelity Bank and the Otumfuo Foundation.

The opening by the Asantehene on May 1 2024 would be attended by directors, curators and trustees of the BM and V&A from London as well as journalists and photographers from the BBC, Reuters, Aljazeera, The Daily Telegraph, The Art Newspaper, some leading figures of Government of Ghana, UNESCO and members of the diplomatic community.

The occasion would also see the outdooring of two major books, a history of 200 years of museology in Asante titled, A History of Manhyia Palace Museum- Inaugural and Other Objects written by Agyeman-Duah with a Foreword provided by Gus Casely- Hayford OBE, Director of V&A East, and previously Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC.

The other book is on contemporary reflections on Images of Ghana- Museums, the Ownership of Cultural Property and Restitution by former Keeper of Ethnography at the British Museum and Vice Principal of the University of Glasgow, UK, Prof. Malcolm McLeod.

As Manhyia pursues cultural engagements through the initiative of the Asantehene, new paradigms on restitutions with British organizations and others continue as it was recently in South Africa of the Gold of Africa Collection.
The Asantehene would also give a major public lecture on Asante Culture and Heritage- Past and Present on the platform of the BM in London in July 2024; as part of an evolving cooperation in international cultures, and mutual technical and business development.

The BM and V&A selected world leading Anglo-Ghanaian philosopher of New York University and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Emeritus University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, Kwame Anthony Appiah to introduce the occasion and lecture.

Appiah is also the current President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

source: citinewsroom.com

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