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The National Museum Lagos has been selected as a beneficiary of the Bank of America Arts Conservation Project 2022 and is among 19 major global art conservation projects to be selected.

Funding from the grant will be used to restore 350 Igbo-Ukwu bronze objects, historically inimitable, they come from a culture that may be the earliest known example of bronze casting in the region. This grant is the first ever funding received for the conservation of the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes.

Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project has supported the conservation of more than 6,000 individual pieces since 2010, including paintings, sculptures, and archaeological and architectural pieces of critical importance to cultural heritage and the history of art. More than 200 projects across 39 countries have been managed by non-profit cultural institutions that receive grant funding to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration.

The National Museum Lagos will restore the Igbo-Ukwu Bronzes, elaborately decorated bronze works dating from the 9th century, in need of conservation to keep the objects in proper form. The Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant will enable the Nigerian National Museum to conduct a structural analysis, consolidation and full conservation and treatment of a total of 350 culturally significant objects of Igbo-Ukwu origin in its collection, beginning with a selection of 150 Igbo-Ukwu bronze objects. The conservation process will take approximately 8 months on site at the National Museum and will involve support from an expert conservator.

“The grant provides an avenue for proper and adequate conservation of Igbo-Ukwu objects, especially some that are already corroded and needs to be restored. It allows the National Commission for Museums and Monuments the opportunity to exhibit objects in their best states for public education and enlightenment.” said Abba Isa Tijani, Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria.

The discovery of the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes was accidental, found in 1938 when a man tried to dig a water cistern in his compound in a village called Igbo-Ukwu- Anambra State Nigeria. Upon scientific excavation of the site in 1959, radiocarbon dating placed the site to 850 CE, which could make the Igbo-Ukwu culture the earliest known example of bronze casting in the region. These Igbo-Ukwu bronzes also represent the earliest examples of copper alloy (copper and tin) art in Sub-Saharan Africa. The people of Ibgo-Ukwu were likely among the first groups of West Africans to use the lost wax hollow casting technique, also known as cire perdue, to produce these bronze sculptures.

The National Museum Lagos is one of 19 significant art restoration projects selected for the 2022 Bank of America Art Conservation Project, representing a diverse range of artistic styles, media, and cultural traditions across the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Ghana, Ireland, Spain, France and Mexico. Institutions receiving support from Bank of America this year include, National Museum of Ghana, Notre-Dame de Paris, Trinity College Library Dublin, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid, and more.

“Through the Art Conservation Project, we have an opportunity to shine a light on the perpetual need for conservation and preservation. Our support helps ensure that future generations can celebrate and enjoy these historic works of art for years to come.” said Brian Siegel, global arts and heritage executive at Bank of America.

For more information, please visit the Art Conservation Project.

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