A museum in Britain says it is willing to consider returning a looted artifact to Benin following an appeal from a member of the West African country’s royal court.
The sculpture is one of thousands of pieces stolen in 1897 during the British invasion of Benin City, and is currently housed at Bristol Museum in western England, according to BBC TV show Inside Out West.
Prince Edun Akenzua of the Royal Court of Benin spoke of his desire to see the sculpture returned in an episode of the show that will air later Monday.
“They were not originally made as museum objects,” he said of the sculptures, which are known as the Benin Bronzes.
“We are appealing to Bristol Museum to blaze the trail for the international community or private holders of the Benin cultural property to get them returned.”
The bronzes consist of more than 1,000 plaques and sculptures formerly housed in the royal palace of the king, or Oba, of Benin.
They are now split among museums and private collections around the world.
Jon Finch, Bristol City Council’s head of culture, who is responsible for the city’s museums, responded positively to the prince’s appeal.
“We’re very happy to explore with the prince the opportunity of returning the object,” he told Inside Out West.
“We’d like to have correspondence with him to see what the specific request is and how we can progress that.”
The cast bronze bust at Bristol Museum has not been valued, but a similar sculpture has been sold for more than £1 million ($1.16 million), the BBC said in a press release for the upcoming program.
Finch said the museum was not aware the sculpture had been stolen.
The institution is also working on a project tracing the troubling provenance of some of its artifacts, known as “Uncomfortable Truths.”
CNN has reached out to Bristol City Council, Bristol Museum and the Benin consulate in London for comment.
In 2018, the British Museum in London agreed to send some of its most valuable Benin bronzes to Nigeria.
A deal was struck by the Benin Dialogue Group that would see “some of the most iconic pieces” in the historic collection returned on a temporary basis to form an exhibition at the new Benin Royal Museum in Nigeria’s Edo State by 2021.