NCMM Travelling Exhibitions: Swedish museum takes turn to showcase Nigerian heritage materials

Posted: August 15, 2013 in arts/culture
(From R-L): Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke; Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman; Registrar and Director of Exhibitions for the Museum for African Art, New York, United States, Ms Amanda Thompson at the media briefing to announce arrangements for the planned Ife artifacts exhibition at the  Swedish Museums for World Culture, in Stockholm, Sweden, September 6 as part of the NCMM Travelling Exhibitions initiative  and foreign partners involved with the exhibition, Tuesday, the

(From R-L): Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke; Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman; Registrar and Director of Exhibitions for the Museum for African Art, New York, United States, Ms Amanda Thompson at the media briefing to announce arrangements for the planned Ife artifacts exhibition at the Swedish Museums for World Culture, in Stockholm, Sweden, September 6 as part of the NCMM Travelling Exhibitions initiative
and foreign partners involved with the exhibition, Tuesday, the

The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) has concluded plans for the Swedish Museums for World Culture, in Stockholm, Sweden to take its turn for the showcase of a collection of Nigerian heritage pieces and crafts expected to last eight months as part of its travelling exhibition collaborative initiative.

The commission was also tasked to leverage on the recent election of Nigeria into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) committee on Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property to identify and repatriate Nigeria’s illegally exported cultural properties.

Addressing a press briefing at the NCMM office in Onikan, Lagos, in company of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke and foreign partners involved with the exhibition, Tuesday, the Director General of the NCMM, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, explained that  the relevance of showcasing the unique collections is to build a workable bilateral partnership with these institutions in area of exchange of ideas, artefacts and capacity building for our museum professionals.

The art objects cast in metal or sculpted from stone and terra cotta from ancient Ife and Igbo-Ukwu civilizations form the collection of 109 heritage materials for the planned exhibition in Sweden, after earlier showings in the United States, United Kingdom and Spain of the same pieces.

The travelling exhibition titled: Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria,” will see the artworks on show for the opening of the exhibition September 6.

“You recall that on the 27th of August, 2012, we gathered here to view the bronze objects shortly before they left the shores of Nigeria for the exhibition titled “Bronze,” also on January 16, we were here to inspect the bronze objects as they returned from Royal Academy London.

“This planned exhibition in Sweden is to further show transparency and accountability in discharging our constitutional obligation. As custodian of our cultural heritage, we will continue to play our role in promoting and showcasing our rich cultural heritage to the world while ensuring their protection and security,” said Usman.

Usman who assured the safety of the heritage materials said the ‘objects will be returned at the expiration of the exhibition exercise. The condition reports have been carried out here in Lagos museum and adequate security measures have being put in place to ensure their safety.’

Remarking, Duke stressed that the planned exhibition will further strengthen Nigeria’s partnership and collaboration with other cultural institutions and countries in efforts to promote the country’s rich cultural heritage.

“This historical and tantalizing exhibition will be educating to the public who would take time out to visit the exhibition. The successes recorded during past exhibitions in Spain, Great Britain and the United States are evidences of how much the world appreciates our high level of development in the world of art.

“It is this appreciation that has now further led Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria to travel to the Swedish Museum for World Culture. This exhibition will further strengthen our partnership and collaboration with other cultural institutions and countries in our efforts to promote our rich cultural heritage.

According to the minister, the collection of heritage materials forming the exhibition is an assemblage of several extraordinary works of art largely from the ancient kingdom of Ife, one of West Africa’s earliest city states, which started as a small cluster of settlements and today has turned into a centre of trade and technological development.

“The artisans of this ancient kingdom produced these masterpieces that are appreciated all over the country and the world,” Duke noted.

The minister who also used the occasion of the travelling exhibition media briefing to announce the election of Nigeria into the subsidiary Committee of the meeting of State Parties to the 1970 Convention on the means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property at the First Session of the Committee held in Paris UNESCO Headquarters, July 2 to 3, therefore enjoined the NCMM to see Nigeria’s election to this important body as an opportunity to help elevate the country’s culture and art to the zenith.

“I charge them to use the medium of the Subsidiary Committee to identify and repatriate our cultural properties that have left the shores of this country through illegal means, as this act threatens our socio-cultural developmental initiative.

“As a society that possesses artefacts of great import and rich culture, some of these countries will be counting on your support in achieving the goals of this committee. On this note, I assure you of my support in actualizing their proposed objectives.

Also commenting, Chief Registrar and Director of Exhibitions for the Museum for African Art, New York, United States, Ms Amanda Thompson, who is part of the Swedish Museums for World Culture, explained that the heritage pieces and artworks billed for the exhibition have already been insured against damage and loss.

“The art objects are beyond doubt national treasures, and prove Nigeria to be one of the world’s greatest art centres of all time. Importantly, this exhibition demonstrates how many extraordinary works are still in the care of museums on the African continent.

“We have worked with the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments for many years now to bring the grandeur of Nigerian culture, its history, and artistic achievements to the attention of the world and take our responsibility for the care and preservation of the objects briefly entrusted to us very seriously,” said Thompson.

Thompson who expressed gratitude to prominent individuals and organizations in the country for enabling and facilitating the exhibition, said her own organization, the Museum for African Art was honoured to continue to work with the NCMM to share these treasures belonging to the Nigerian people with the world and to work to increase the appreciation and knowledge of Nigerian culture internationally.

“We are very pleased that throughout this project we have had the opportunity to work closely with so many Nigerian staff, both here in Lagos, in Ife, and also in Europe and the United States. In addition to the Commission and the Ministry we also would like to acknowledge the support of his Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Olubuse Sijuade,” remarked Thompson.

Continuing, Thompson noted that: “At every stage, as these incredible treasures were brought to the attention of the world, Nigerians have been involved as true partners. We hope that this project will inspire many others and will lead to greater worldwide awareness of Nigeria’s rich heritage.”

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