The Brutish Museums: Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence, Cultural Restitution

Friday, Feb 12, 2021 - Friday, Feb 12, 2021 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm


Author, curator, and professor Dan Hicks will present on his recent publication, The Brutish Museums.

About this Event

Please register for this event on Zoom:

Author, curator, and professor Dan Hicks will present on his recent publication, The Brutish Museums. Named one of the best art books of 2020, the New York Times concludes, “If you care about museums and the world, read this book.” Hicks’ presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives from California museums and academic institutions.

Pictured: Interior of the Royal Palace during looting of the Benin Bronzes, February 1897. Pitt Rivers Museum.


More about The Brutish Museums from Pluto Press:

Walk into any European museum today and you will see the curated spoils of Empire. They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin. They do not mention that the objects are all stolen.

Few artefacts embody this history of rapacious and extractive colonialism better than the Benin Bronzes – a collection of thousands of brass plaques and carved ivory tusks depicting the history of the Royal Court of the Obas of Benin City, Nigeria. Pillaged during a British naval attack in 1897, the loot was passed on to Queen Victoria, the British Museum and countless private collections.

The story of the Benin Bronzes sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and the decolonisation of museums. In The Brutish Museums, Dan Hicks makes a powerful case for the urgent return of such objects, as part of a wider project of addressing the outstanding debt of colonialism.


Presented in collaboration with:

Ethnic Arts Council of Los Angeles

Fowler Museum

de Young Museum

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

UCSC Archaeological Research Center


Presented with support from:

African American Studies & African Diaspora Studies, UC Berkeley

Berkeley Arts & Ideas

Center for African Studies, UC Berkeley

Center for Race & Gender, UC Berkeley

Decolonizing Museums? Working Group

Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley

History of Art Department, UC Berkeley

Pluto Press



If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) to fully participate in this event, please contact Katie Fleming at with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.

Request Event Co-Sponsorship

CRG Forum Proposals

Interested in presenting as an individual or as part of a panel at CRG Forum Series?

Or have suggestions for future topics and presenters?