In Summer 2018, Windmuller-Luna began a journey to find the family in Ògbómọ̀ṣọ́, Nigeria, to whom this costume originally belonged. With the help of a network of Nigerian scholars in Oyo State including Dr. D.O. Makinde, she was able to locate and make contact with the family. It was from them that she learned that the costume was stolen around 1948. Yet the rest of the costume’s provenance is still mysterious. No one is exactly sure who took it; Windmuller-Luna suggested during a walkthrough of the exhibition that it may have been a jealous family member. The piece was gifted to the museum in 1998 by Sam Hilu, a collector and dealer of rare textiles, but where he acquired it from is also unknown.
The curator first asked the elders of the Lekewọgbẹ family if they wanted the costume returned. After a divination ceremony which determined that the masquerade had been effectively “de-powered,” or stripped of its spiritual force (called axé in Yorùbá), the family allowed the Brooklyn Museum to keep it. This process of in-depth exchange with the Lekewọgbẹs and their extended community led Windmuller-Luna to create an exhibition that celebrates and emphasizes, as the exhibition website notes, “the global connections of African masquerades while challenging the misconception that cultural practices are static.”