The Museum Heist Scene in ‘Black Panther’ Adds Fuel to the Debate About African Art Restitution

Sarah Cascone, ArtNet News, March 5, 2018

"Black Panther, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is taking the box office by storm, raking in more than $700 million in ticket sales in just its first 12 days; it’s now closing in on $900 million. For art lovers, the superhero film has added intrigue: a dramatic museum heist that brings up thorny issues of colonialism and restitution in connection to the display and ownership of African artifacts.

One of the film’s early scenes (light spoilers ahead!) is set at the “Museum of Great Britain.” It was filmed at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, according to Gizmodo, but serves as a thinly-veiled stand-in for London’s British Museum. The character Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (played by Michael B. Jordan) stands in front of a museum display, examining a selection of African artifacts when the museum director approaches, offering to tell him about the works.

Killmonger quickly contradicts her, explaining that a seventh-century war hammer wasn’t made by the Fula tribe in Benin, as she believes. “It was taken by British solders in Benin, but it’s from Wakanda. And it’s made out of Vibranium,” he said, referencing the fictional African country with vast resources of the valuable metal Vibranium. “Don’t trip—I’m gonna take it off your hands for you.”"

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