Studying the Display of the Benin Bronzes for a Better Future in Cross-Cultural Relations in Art

For decades, museums have dealt with an ethical and historical controversy about whether to return art and cultural objects looted or taken as a result of colonialization. Rather than argue for repatriation, Alysse Tucker Bounds calls for a better understanding of artifact ownership as a means of strengthening cross-cultural relations.

"Art museums across the globe exhibiting artifacts for public consumption are actively engaging in a passive ignorance of the political conflicts behind artifact ownership," Tucker Bounds said. "Instead, it is the responsibility of the museum and its curators to recognize the cultural implications of the artifacts and respond according to the desires of the country of origin."

As an example, Tucker Bounds investigates the Benin bronzes on display at the British Museum, which were stolen 123 years ago. "The British Museum is rich with ancient artifacts from all over the world with stories of triumph, war, and economic expansion," she explained.

"The Benin Bronzes on display in the lower ground floor are an example of artifacts consumed by London's population with a national battle taking place behind closed doors. The museum must understand and explain to visitors precisely where the artifacts originally come from and distribute the financial gain from their displays in a more culturally sensitive manner."