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‘Inconvenient truths’: Berlin’s Humboldt Forum faces up to its colonial past

By Philip Oltermann

19 Sep 2022 · 5 min read

Visitors to room 210 at the Humboldt Forum, the new €644m Berlin museum that completed its staggered opening last Friday, may briefly find themselves reminded of the British Museum.

In both, a distinctive wall of metal rods marks the start of a display about the former Kingdom of Benin. In London the metal grid is adorned with cast bronze reliefs depicting Benin kings and warriors, which remain in the museum’s possession despite being looted by British soldiers over a century ago. In Berlin, by contrast, the rods support a row of plasma screens, on which German and Nigerian curators, officials and activists explain why the bronzes don’t belong in Europe any more.

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