In order to stimulate art education in Africa, a Yoruba prince of Ake, Yemis Shyllon has donated more than 1,000 art works out of his 7,000 collection from the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation(OYASAF, est. 2007) to Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos. With such a collection, the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art has become the country’s first University museum. The University collection has been enriched by works “from traditional works of pre-colonial Nigeria to 20thcentury paintings by Ben Enwonwu, wood carvings by Lamidi Fakeye, a wall-hanging sculpture by Ghana’s El Anatsui , also with the collection of photographs documenting Nigeria’s disappearing cultural festivals.”
The Shyllon’s collection helped the University to make its dream of turning the virtual museum of modern and contemporary art of Nigeria that was launched in 2011 to a reality with a museum building designed by a Spanish architect Jess Castellote and material objects. Moreover, according to the museum partnership agreement, Shyllon provided a N600m ($1.7m) grant that would “subsidise costs for the first ten years” of the museum. The opportunity to donate any of remaining 6,000 works will be discussed later.
The inaugural exhibitions Making Matter: Materiality and Technology in Nigerian Artand Mirroring the Nation: Art, Society and Politics(both until December 2021), took place on 19thOctober. The Museum has already become a vivid space within the just finished and still ongoing cultural events in Nigeria: the 10th Lagos Photo Festival (25 October-13 November), the 4th Art X Lagos fair (1-3 November), and the 2nd Lagos Biennial (26 October-23 November).
It should be noted that while the YSMA became the first private museum in Nigeria, it is the second on the continent opened since 2016:
- the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden , Marrakesh, funded by hotel developer Alami Lazraq and his son Othman);
- the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa Zeitz Mocaa , Cape Town, a result of a partnership between Puma executive Jochen Zeitz and the V&A Waterfront development;
- the Norval foundation of art and cultural expressions, assembled by the Norval family,
- the Museum of Black Civilisations in Dakar, for which the Chinese government “provided a $34 million funding boost.”-see https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/sprawling-museum-black-civilizations-opens-senegal-180970976/