Smithsonian Museum to Showcase Works of late Chief Alonge “the Photographer” in Benin City

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC is set to exhibit the works of the first official photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Chief Solomon Alonge, who died in 1994 after a career spanning six decades. 

The exhibition is being planned to coincide with Nigeria’s centenary celebrations next year and would be permanently on display in Benin City, Edo State from September 2014.

The Senior Archivist of the Museum, Dr. Amy Staples, said at a press briefing in Abuja Thursday to raise awareness for the exhibition that over $150,000 had been expended by the museum to ensure the preservation of the works after they were secured from the family for an undisclosed sum in 2008.

She added that it was a marvel that Alonge managed to preserve his works considering the high level of humidity in Nigeria.

The collection is historic photographs captured on Kodak glass plate negatives and large format films. Staples added that the exhibition is an opportunity to share a visual history of Nigeria with Nigerians and to develop educational programmes around the exhibits.

This is the first time a foreign museum would decide to come to Nigeria to showcase Nigerian works and leave them permanently on display.

The Co-founder of Didi Museum in  Lagos,  Mrs. Elizabeth Jibunoh, called on Nigerians to continue to seek the return of various artifacts taken from Nigeria during colonial rule.

She lauded the Smithsonian institution for taking such a bold step to plan to exhibit Nigerian works which it legally secured and leave them on display in Nigeria permanently.

A VIP dinner would be held this Sunday to raise awareness for the exhibit. It will be co-chaired by Crown Prince Edaiken of Benin Kingdom; President, Nigerian Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Chairman/Editor-in-Chief, THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena

Author: nmmin

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