Date of Award

November 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

William W. Wood

Committee Members

Dawn Scher Thomae, David Pacifico


Benin Bronzes, Cultural Repatriation, International Repatriation, Relationships, Royal Art of Benin


The Benin Bronzes are a grouping of an estimated 10,000 works made from brass, ivory, wood, clay, as well as other materials. These objects originated from the royal palace in Benin City, located in present day Nigeria in Africa. Within the last five years, beginning in 2017, discussions surrounding the repatriation of these artifacts from museums around the world have been reignited to a high degree where institutions are actively working towards researching and, in increasing numbers, repatriating the material to Nigeria. Through video and written interviews this thesis examines the thoughts and opinions of 11 professionals in museums across the United States about international repatriation efforts regarding the Benin Bronzes. The goal of this thesis is to understand what is currently occurring in the museum field. Through these interviews I was able to learn that 90% of my interviewees are actively researching their African collections and are open to returning them to the object’s country of origin if it was obtained unethically or illegally. This is a crucial time in history as people in diverse museums in the United States and Europe are working together to return the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.