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Museum of West African Art Announces the Opening of its First Major Facility, the MOWAA Institute

An exciting time is to come in Benin City as the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) prepares to officially open the doors of its brand new MOWAA Institute on November 4th, 2024. As the first major facility on MOWAA's expansive 15-acre creative campus, the Institute is poised to be the intellectual powerhouse driving the museum's ambitious mission.

Under the visionary leadership of Director Ore Disu, the 4,000 square meters (43,000 sq ft) Institute building has been intentionally designed to serve as a hub for world-class research, training, and public engagement around the preservation and celebration of West African heritage. "Our decision to start with the MOWAA Institute is thus no accident. It was a deliberate, strategic decision to begin with a strong foundation for artists and heritage managers and to instil a sense of collective responsibility to work together to preserve and celebrate heritage," Phillip Ihenacho, Executive Director and Chairman of MOWAA revealed. 

With state-of-the-art archaeology labs, conservation studios, a 100-seat auditorium, and expansive collection storage facilities, the Institute is on the mark to become a magnet for scholars, curators, and heritage professionals from across the region and around the world.

But the opening of the MOWAA Institute marks more than just the inauguration of a new facility - it signals a conscious effort to redefine the very role and practices of museums in Africa. As Ore Disu explains, "We are at an interesting point in our journey. Our vision is perhaps now more tangible, yet we are still in the process of reimagining and recontextualizing 'the museum' within an African contemporaneity and transnational reality."

To that end, the opening event, themed "Museum in the Making: Rediscovering a West African Identity, Philosophy and Practice", will invite the public to engage in candid, reflective discussions on what it means to be a truly African-centric museum in the 21st century. Renowned artist Yinka Shonibare has already voiced his enthusiastic support, calling MOWAA's work "essential" in creating an institution "actually made for local people in their own way, on their own terms."

As the MOWAA campus continues to take shape with additional facilities like the Rainforest Gallery, Art Guesthouse and Artisans Hall, the November 4th opening of the Institute promises to be a landmark moment - not just for the museum, but for the entire West African cultural scene. 

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Museum of West African Art Announces the Opening of its First Major Facility, the MOWAA Institute

June 20, 2024

Fredrick Favour

2 min read

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