The culture ministers of Germany and France signed an agreement to set up a joint provenance research fund to focus on museum objects from sub-Saharan Africa at a meeting in Hamburg on Tuesday.
A three-year pilot project, to which each country will contribute up to €360,000 annually, is set to start in February 2024, the German culture ministry said in a statement.
“A large part of sub-Saharan Africa’s cultural heritage is today located outside the countries and regions of origin, and much of it is in European collections,” German culture minister Claudia Roth said in a statement. “With this French-German fund, we are launching a new phase in confronting this historical injustice.”
Both France and Germany have pledged to return heritage looted from former colonies, and both countries have in recent years restituted objects from their museums. In 2021, France returned 26 objects looted by colonial soldiers to the Republic of Benin. Last year, Germany transferred the ownership of around 1,100 Benin bronzes to Nigeria.
Roth said the French-German cooperation agreement, which she signed with her French counterpart Rima Abdul Malak, will also comprise an academic advisory council with members from France, Germany and an equal number of representatives from sub-Saharan Africa.