Ehikhamenor said the Met was “dancing around these objects,” much like the British Museum. But, he added, “American institutions’ time will come.”

Philip Ihenacho, a financier who is leading the fund-raising drive for the Edo Museum of West African Art, said in a telephone interview that the newfound willingness of some governments and museums to talk about returning the Benin Bronzes was a game changer. “With the momentum that seems to be behind some of the discussions, we feel more and more confident that the challenge is no longer going to be persuading people to give objects back.”

“The challenge,” he added, “is going to be how to build an institution that is worthy of receiving the objects.”

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

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