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Yabatech Art Museum opens in Lagos

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Regional Director, Ford Foundation (left); Innocent Chukwuma; Rector, Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Obafemi Omokungbe; Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Art and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf; and Consultant, Yabatech Sexual Harassment And Gender Base Policy (SHGBV), Dr. Abiola Afolabi-Akiyiode, during the lunch of SHGBV Policy in Lagos. Photo: Eniola Daniel<br />

• Gets $100,000, Ford Foundation Grant
• How Govt Killed Onikan Museum Project — Ford Foundation
• Lagos Aim To Empower 2.5m Youths In Arts And Crafts, Says Commissioner

With the All In The Eye art show, Yaba College of Technology’s first museum has been opened.

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Speaking at the event, the institution’s rector, Obafemi Omokungbe, said it is the first of such in tertiary institutions history in Nigeria. “This is not a surprise as the institution is known for its numerous landmark achievements.”

He said the art school has projected the institution’s name within and outside Nigeria.

While noting that many famous artists and intellectuals have passed through the school, he said, “the art museum will serve both cultural and educational purposes with the intent to teach, train and be a resource space for both researchers and learners.”

He commended the Ford Foundation without whose contributions and support this could not have been possible.

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The college was awarded a grant of $100,000 by the foundation for the project.

The Regional Director, Ford Foundation, Innocent Chukwuma, said, “there is hardly any tertiary institution that does not have a faculty of Fine and Applied Art, but the question is, why have they not done what Yabatech is doing today? Is it because of lack of resources or lack of personnel? The only thing we can associate it with is the level of commitment to leadership.”

The Ford Foundation has, in the past decade, been actively involved in rebuilding museums and monuments in Nigeria and Yabatech is the first that has actually been completed to the point of launching it.

“Within my leadership of the foundation in West Africa, which started in January 2013, we began by trying to support the Museum in Onikan to be remodernise, we gave a contract of $670,000 and after that redesigning, we committed again $2 million for the building of a conservatory and all we needed from the Nigerian government was to match that contribution so that the museum will be built to international standard, but that project was not completed. We went to the ministry in Abuja and we were told if it was sited in some other place where the minister came from, the money would have been provided, we then went to the commission on monument and museum telling them that this was the money that is about to leave Nigeria if we don’t meet up and it was the same story I heard. At the end of the day, we took the $2 million to Mali to rescue the Timbuktu manuscript that was destroyed by the rebel, that was how that project never saw the light of the day.

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“Nigeria has some of the most iconic artists in the world but there are very few publications documenting the works of these artists, so, under my predecessor, we began supporting the documentation of the works of key figures in art in Nigeria and the first one that was done was the Artists of Nigeria that documented 100 years of art production.”

Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism, Art and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, said, she is confident that this will not only serve as a museum for visitors but complement research works by students.

“As a government, we will continue to welcome initiatives similar to this among our schools across the state so that there can always be a platform where students can learn more about our culture and arts,” she said.

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As part of efforts towards revamping and protecting the country’s artifacts and other important historical relics, the state government embarked on the renovation of Badagry Museum, which has now become one of the major tourist attractions in the state. “The museum has been equipped and furnished with some cultural items, artifacts, relics of the slave era, and traditional items of historical value and others.

“It is important that management of this institute explore collaborative synergy with the state government in this area such that this museum put up by the management of this institution can be put into good use,” the commissioner said.

The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture is also at the forefront of not just promoting arts and culture but creating job opportunities around everything that has to do with arts and culture.

The initiative was part of plans to boost the participant’s creativity and make them more economically independent. “Our target actually is to empower over 2.5 million youths through arts and crafts in addition to the provision of start-up credit facilities for them through the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment,” revealed the commissioner.
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