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EMOWAA unveils plans, initiatives

EMOWAA unveils plans, initiatives

The Edo Museum of West Africa Art (EMOWAA) Trust, has unveiled plans and programmes for their development in Benin City, the capital of Edo State.

The Trust Foundation revealed that work is in progress for the construction of the first building designed by world renowned architect, David Adjaye, OBE in partnership with Nigerian architects MOE+, to house materials and digital laboratory, Archeology Center and research and archives facility.

The organisation was established in 2019 as a non- profit making foundation/trust incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and committed to the long-term support of the creative sector and a transparent, professional governance structure in line with international standards.

The Trust has begun the construction of the Pavellion, a world-class research education centre, which will sit alongside the actual museum within the museum complex.

It will provide archives and research centre, space for learning and exchange, and archival space for works of art from West Africa and the diaspora both contemporary and heritage.

At a media briefing held Thursday March 30, 2023, Philip Iheanacho, executive chairman of the EMOWAA Trust, explained:

“EMOWAA’s initial focus will be on creating an ecosystem for research education and career opportunities for young creatives and professionals in cultural heritage management. The Pavillion space for learning and exchange, and archival space for works of art from West Africa and the diaspora both contemporary and heritage.”

“It will also be a space that will help catalyse the art and culture ecosystem by providing infrastructure for capacity building, training, digitisation of works and growing a pipeline of future artists and archeologists. In short it is about building platforms for the study and creation of art.” Iheanacho said.

The trust has a mission to support West African heritage and culture as well as to empower contemporary creatives.

The first building under construction will provide modern research facilities for artists and academics from across West Africa and archeological lab including digital equipment and facilities to support the storage and study of West Africa’s unique cultural knowledge base and its imagined features into 2D/3D reality for global access and engagement.

Iheanacho noted that the pavellion will house a visitor centre for engaging the local stakeholders through ongoing initiatives and programming. At the centre of the initiatives is a commitment to redefine how research, archives and collections are engaged with, challenging ideas of expertise and exclusivity.

Read also: Chika Okeke-Agulu, Aindrea Emelife to strengthen EMOWAA’s focus on modern, contemporary art

The EMOWAA Trust will serve as facilitator and platforms supporting and maintaining part of a planned cultural district in the heart of Benin City as the creative district will partner with and stimulate the success of all existing and planned cultural institutions in Benin City including the Royal Benin Museum and the existing NCMM museum by facilitating a thriving creative hub and tourism destination in Edo State.

EMOWAA’s collaboration with other museums, educational and cultural institutions and foundations across the world, seeks to foster long term partnership that promote supportive platforms for the creative sector and enhance the vibrant contemporary art scene in West Africa.

The executive chairman explained the difference between and other museums, saying, “EMOWAA moves beyond the notion of the “museums” as building and “research” as purely academic knowledge. It will be in its very essence, a living institution relevant and connected to the contemporary. It will expand public space and bridge traditional of heritage and living artists and artisans, demonstrating a strong continuum between past, present and future.”

For him, the foundation has a good relationship with the Royal Majesty Oba Ewusare 11, as the foundation goal is to support and work with cultural institutions in Edo State, including the Royal Benin Museum to facilitate a thriving creative hub and tourism destination in Edo State.

EMOWAA is funding the pavellion project through donor contributions, EMOWAA Trust Board of Directors and donations from local and individual and corporate supporters, international foundations and institutions, and the German and Edo State governments among others.

So far, construction work is progressing for the research, archives and archeological centre.

The trust is in collaboration with OSF Africa to engage young artists and archeologists, educating them on the career opportunities in the field of heritage management and archeology. A digital lab to enhance the heritage economy, education and creative industries through digital technologies.

Stakeholders of the trust has no business interest in the project, but make charity contributions towards the development of the foundation.

EMOWAA is run by a Board of Trustees, with Philip Iheanacho as the executive director. Professor China Okeke-Agulu and Aindrea Emelife are appointed senior advisor and curiator of contemporary and modern art, respectively.