The German government has signed an agreement to transfer ownership of the Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria, reports Reuters.
Sometime this year, they will be physically returned to Nigeria. Per an agreement with Nigeria, a third of the artifacts will remain on loan in Berlin at the Humboldt Forum for at least 10 years.
In 1897, British soldiers stole hundreds of bronze sculptures and plaques when they invaded the Kingdom of Benin, which is located in what is now southwestern Nigeria. Some of the ancient artifacts trace as far back as the 13th century.
Most of the artifacts ended up in American and European museums.
According to French art historians, 90% of African art is believed to be in Europe, which is a direct result of European colonialism.
"This represents the future concerning the artifacts issue; a future of collaboration among museums, a future of according respect and dignity to the legitimate requests of other nations and traditional institutions," said Abba Isa Tijani, director general of Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
Tijani also implored other nations and institutions to make similar agreements with African countries.
London's Horniman Museum announced earlier this month that it would return 72 artifacts, including 12 brass plaques, to the Nigerian government.
A museum in Paris and a college at Cambridge University college announced plans to return artifacts to Africa as well.
Claudia Roth of the German Culture Commissioner said that the agreement was “an example for museums in Germany with colonial-era collections.” He pledged that further agreements will be announced in the coming months.