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New Restitutions are Announced by German Museums

A handful of artifacts will be returned to Cameroon and Namibia by the board of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), a federal entity that manages 27 museums and cultural institutions in and around Berlin. The announcement represents Germany’s most recent substantial act of restitution as it continues to review its national holdings and hone its approach to colonial-era artwork and artifacts.

23 items will be permanently repatriated to Namibia from the Ethnological Museum of the National Museums in Berlin. The items, which include clothing, jewelry, and historical artifacts, returned to the nation for the first time in May as a result of the research project “Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures,” which was carried out in collaboration with the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN).

The so-called Ngonnso, a female figure taken from the historical region of Nso’ (northwestern Cameroon) by colonial officer Curt von Pavel, who donated it to the Ethnological Museum in 1903, has also been returned after a protracted negotiation with Cameroonian officials.

Last year, Germany made news when it was the first nation to return Benin bronzes that had been stolen by British forces from Nigeria.