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British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museums Return Asante Objects of 1874 to Ghana

The British Museum (BM) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) have returned thirty-two royal objects to Ghana, which were taken from the Palace in Kumasi during the Anglo-Asante Wars of the 19th century. These objects include items from the Sargrenti War of 1874.

The 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 mostly golden royal regalia, which are around 150 years old, are on loan for an initial three years and can be renewed for another three. There are fifteen pieces from the BM and seventeen from the V&A.

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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 chief negotiator Mr Ivor Agyeman-Duah represented and signed on behalf of the Manhyia Palace.

The return of these objects is part of the silver jubilee year of the Asantehene Osei Tutu II, who initiated the negotiations in May 2023. It 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.

The objects will be received by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in Kumasi, and the Manhyia Palace Museum will be closed for three weeks 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.

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These objects will be part of an international exhibition titled “Homecoming- Adversity and Commemoration,” put together by a team of British and Ghanaian curators. The exhibition is being supported by partners such as British Airways, Fidelity Bank, and the Otumfuo Foundation.

The opening of the exhibition on May 1, 2024, will be attended by directors, curators, and trustees of the BM and V&A from London, as well as journalists and photographers from various media outlets. The occasion will also see the launch of two major books related to Asante culture and heritage.

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