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MOWAA To Create Edo Arts, Heritage Complex

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Its arrival will enhance Nigeria's art and culture industry with opportunities.

The Museum of West African Art, Edo (MOWAA) made its public unveiling over the weekend in Benin City, Edo State, and with it, reaffirmed its intention to develop an art, culture, and heritage complex of world-class calibre in the city. This was good news for Nigeria’s art and culture industry, which gained a boost as a result of the museum’s arrival. After its 3-day Open Day in Benin City, the management of MOWAA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting West African arts and culture, briefed the media on its plans to turn its Pavilion into a centre for educational and research activities.

According to Ms. Ore Disu, Director of the Pavilion’s Research and Collections, the event, which took place on the site of the Pavilion, which is their first office set aside for conservation and research in Benin City, aimed to improve its efforts in Nigeria by protecting surviving remains from construction activities that might negatively impact them and by training specialists to help standardize the field of heritage conservation. They are delighted to share the news of their inaugural Open Day celebration, which took place in the city at the Pavilion, their centre.

Different opportunities and possibilities lie in the Pavilion Centre.

She noted that the purpose of the three-day event was to educate visitors on the numerous advantages that the future Pavilion Centre will bring the city, such as investment, employment opportunities, and educational possibilities, by providing informative tours of the planned location. She stated they are happy to open their offices to the community. The Open Day is also a platform to create a deeper awareness of the value of archaeology in conserving their cultural inheritance while presenting some of their fascinating discoveries.

They’re thrilled to let more local artists and professionals learn about the Pavilion, which is rapidly becoming a vital hub for academic pursuits and public engagement. Without the support of the local and international partners, she said they would not have been able to fulfil their mission of improving the lives of people. MOWAA has already begun providing initiatives, three of which were exhibited on the Open Day. The organization is eager to make a contribution to education and development in Edo state, and it has already begun delivering these activities.

Many partnerships were secured to educate the team and volunteers.

Furthermore, the National Commission of Museums and Monuments, the German Archaeological Institute, Cambridge Archaeological Unit, the British Museum, Wessex Archaeology, and the Open Society Foundation are all working together on these projects. In conjunction with the British Museum and working closely with the National Commission of Museums and Monuments, the event highlighted the results of a series of archaeological studies conducted before construction. The local archaeological team has been receiving help from these organizations, which are also educating volunteers from the University of Benin to ensure that no items are lost or damaged during construction.

Since September 2022, the event has also featured ongoing outreach initiatives with local schools and community stakeholders. Attendees at the event included representatives from different non-governmental organizations (NGO), artists, artisans, students, community groups, and residents who were simply interested in this subject. Many other institutions were also represented, including the National Commission of Museum and Monuments (NCMM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the Archaeological Association of Nigeria, and the Universities of Benin and Ibadan.

A rebranding is suggested to reflect the organization’s mission.

More so, Director of EMOWAA Trust, Phillip Ihenacho, also said that the organization chose to refresh its brand image to reflect its mission better. So from now on, they will utilize the Museum of West African Art, Edo (MOWAA). This marks a turning point for their organization. Several West African institutions have already reached out to them for possible partnerships. They plan to expand their international profile by opening other innovation and education hubs in cities across Nigeria and beyond.

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