Wednesday, 7th June 2023

With No Art, No History, DIDI Museum celebrates four decades of art

By Florence Utor
17 May 2023   |   6:41 am
With the theme, No Art No History, DIDI Museum, an art, culture and heritage promotion centre, Victoria Island, celebrated 40 years of heritage promotion on May 11.

Jibunoh with then emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuade Olubuse 2, and Oba Of Benin, Oba Akenzua 2

With the theme, No Art No History, DIDI Museum, an art, culture and heritage promotion centre, Victoria Island, celebrated 40 years of heritage promotion on May 11.

Founded in May 1983 by Dr Newton Jibunoh in memory of his sister, Edith Jibunoh, who died at an early age, DIDI Museum, is recorded as the first private museum in Lagos.

The museum has remained the home of, and nurturer of the careers of many artists and culture workers, who often identified themselves as either DIDI Artists or DIDI Museum Children” because of the mutual affection and familial link they have shared with the facility over the decades.

To commemorate the epoch, the management is leaving no stone unturned as it has designed a three-pronged programme that would remind the art producing and consuming community and indeed the general public, of its contribution to the Nigerian and African culture sectors over these years.

The celebration is designed to kick off on May 18, celebrated every year as the ‘World Museum Day’ as designated by the UNESCO, is essentially to announce the new direction the museum intends to pursue in the coming decades of its existence. In particular, it would announce the formal berth of the Museum in Delta State, the home state and current base of the 85-year-old founder.

According to the organisers, the celebration will also mark the formal opening of the Nelson Mandela Garden & Resorts, the 40-room lodging facility of the vast nature-resort located in the premises of the Asaba International Airport, which will be the new home of the DIDI Museum going forward. The facility will be formally introduced by Managing Director of Silk Road Hospitality, Dewald Dgruger, the new managing partners of the resort.

Jibunoh, explaining the idea behind the theme, stated, “Without the arts, there is no history as the art documents our culture and heritage and therefore history of civilisations over the centuries”

The heart of the celebration would be the opening of an exhibition of some of the works in the collection of the museum on Friday, May 20, which would be performed by the royal fathers of Kano and Benin. This is to honour and knowledge the sustained contributions of the two royal kingdoms in the history of the museum, right from inception in 1983.

Day of the celebration will begin with Youth Day, which will see 40 students invited from four secondary schools in Asaba, who would make excursion to the nature-friendly Nelson Mandela Garden & Resort, during which they would explore its vast green ambience, including mini-zoo for animals – monkeys, crocodiles, peacocks etc — and produce drawings or paintings that catch their fancy. The students would later converge for a mentoring session with the Octogenarian founder of the Museum and the Garden, who started his life journey as an adventurer and art lover in his teenage years.

The Virtual Conversations would feature some of the artists who had been part of the Didi Museum family over the decades, including those whose careers were either birthed or have been shaped through the support and operations of the art centre.

This session is themed, “My Journey with Didi” to be prefaced with a keynote by Nath Mayo Adediran, the former Federal Director of National Museums and Monuments, who was key to gathering the earlier collections by the museum, would feature reflections by the two artists, whose works marked the inaugural exhibition of the museum: the cartoonist-painter-sculptor, Kenny Adamson; and the engineer-painter and photographer, Adamu Ajunam. Also sharing reflections would be the renowned painter-cartoonist, Josy Ajiboye, and the painters Lara Ige Jacks, Tunde Soyinka, Zinno Orara, Osahenyen Kainebi and others.

Some friends and patrons, some of them media workers who had written consistently on its operations over the years, would also speak on their recollections of the operation and contribution of the museum to the Nigerian and African culture ecosystem. These include popular arts writers and documentarists such as Ben Tomoloju, Gbile Oshadipe, Akin Onipede, Tunde Lanipekun, Toyin Akinosho, Chuka Nnabuife, Bolaji Alonge, and Olu Ajayi, and others. Some special guests and patrons are also expected to speak on their relationship with the museum. They include the art and culture patron Erelu Abiola Dosumu and the popular art entrepreneur, Bolanle Austen-Peters, who first visited the museum as a student on excursion.

There will also be an Exhibition of 40 works that have been specially curated to represent the characteristics of the vast collections of the museum over the years. Essentially, the display would reflect the divergent tastes and artistic preferences of the founder, Dr Jibunoh, and the board of the museum. Conceptually, the works would be mounted as a mini-tour of the new home of the Didi Museum in the Nelson Mandela Garden & Resort. The works would eventually grace the walls of the exquisitely furnished rooms and conferencing facility of the Resort, according to Dr Jibunoh.

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