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  • Writer's pictureFemi Abodunde

New Museum of West African Art Will Incorporate the Ruins of Benin City

EMOWAA’s (Edo Museum of West African Art) future home is located in the heart of the old city, next to the palace of the oba, or king, of Benin, which was rebuilt in the 20th century following its destruction in the 1897 attack. Plans to incorporate Benin City’s surviving walls, moats and gates into the new building.

In January 1897, British troops attacked the Kingdom of Benin’s capital in what is now southern Nigeria, exiling the Edo people’s ruler, destroying much of the city and stealing its treasures. More than a century later, the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA)—a planned cultural institution set to be built on the site of the razed city—promises to not only restore some of Benin City’s ruins to their former glory but also act as a home for the array of looted artifacts being returned to Nigeria by museums around the world. As Naomi Rea reports for artnet News, the British Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Benin Bronzes, will help archaeologists excavate the site as part of a $4 million project. Objects discovered during the dig will become part of the new museum’s collections.

In addition to housing historical artwork and artifacts, the museum will feature a space for contemporary art. Speaking with the Times, The architect, David Adjaye says he hopes the institution will help connect local residents with their cultural heritage and support “a renaissance of African culture.”

The Edo people in modern day Nigeria founded the Kingdom of Benin in the 1200s. Benin became a trading power, selling artwork, gold, ivory and pepper to other countries. It was also involved in the slave trade. During the 19th century, civil wars and British encroachment on Benin’s trading networks weakened the nation’s power. After burning Benin City in 1897, the British claimed the kingdom’s territory and incorporated it into British Nigeria, which gained independence as the nation of Nigeria in 1960.

David Adjaye, was also the architect on this in Washington DC, a landmark museum for African Americans. it's designed like a #Yoruba crown from the outside. I'm half #Yoruba, half #Edo.

Here's a link to a Wall Street Journal article in which I'm mentioned. Adjaye did the architecture on the project, I was the GM. A retail project for which I also oversaw construction of his architectural vision, it was a vanity project for the owner, These architects do global landmarks for cut rate, then convert press into private clientele. I got fed up with the vanity, and we parted ways before total completion of the new construction

Thats me at work on the project in 2013. Its not as glamorous when you gotta wear a hard hat all day long. Thats the Italian foreman they brought down from Naples to Lagos for the project. An Italian company got the contract to build. If you know anything about Italy, then you know the mob runs their construction industry. lol


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