The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has reassured that his government will ensure the realization of the proposed Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) and facilitate the return of prized Benin heritage objects looted from Benin kingdom.
Obaseki gave the assurance in commemoration of World Art Day, a celebration to promote the development, diffusion and enjoyment of art, which was proclaimed at the 40th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2019.
The governor noted: “As we mark World Art Day, the significance and justification for the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) is brought to the fore.
“Aside the fact that we would be preserving our artifacts at the Museum, it will serve as a contact point to remind our people of the magnificence and sophistication of our forebears, as well as provide a rich experience of the cultural arts traditions of Benin people.
“We are making progress with the realization of the museum project as a renowned architect, Sir David Adjaye, who has been commissioned to design the museum, has produced the drawings that give us an idea on how visitors will interact with our arts heritage.”
The governor said the state government is working assiduously with other stakeholders in running an independent trust fund, the Legacy Restoration Trust, to guarantee the completion of the world-class Museum.
Noting his administration’s commitment to promote Arts, Culture and Tourism, Obaseki maintained that the museum will attract tourists from far and near to view Benin artefacts and have an experience of the history and rich cultural heritage of Edo people.
He added that the British Museum has already made a donation of $4 million for the archaeological project to involve urban regeneration, excavation and renewal initiatives, adding, “This will enable us to create a unique experience for visitors to attract people to enjoy our state and see our great reforms.”
According to Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, “Bringing people together, inspiring, soothing and sharing: these are the powers of art, the importance of which has been made emphatically obvious during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“With hundreds of thousands of people directly affected by the virus and billions more either in lockdown or battling the pandemic on the front lines, this World Art Day is a timely reminder that art has the power to unite and connect in times of crisis.”