By Nii B. Andrews.
The Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art (YSMA) opened on 19 October at the Pan-Atlantic University (PAU) on the Lekki peninsula east of Lagos.
Its backbone consists of a donation of more than 1,000 works of Nigerian art from the collection of Prince Yemisi Shyllon. It will also show works owned by the university and gifts from other collectors and artists.
The donated pieces include traditional art, modern paintings and sculptures, as well as photographs of Nigeria’s fast disappearing cultural festivals.
YMSA is Nigeria’s first privately funded university museum and the donated works have been chosen to give the museum “global impact”.
The museum’s physical structure consists of a two-storey cubic building in stained rust orange concrete designed by Jess Castellote – a Spanish born architect who has lived in Nigeria for 35 years and now appointed museum director.
It will house 400 works in a total exhibition floor space of 1,300 square meters.
The external insulation of the building and the internal air circulation are such as will enable the building to require minimal air conditioning; the space has also been designed for optimum versatility with respect to changing curatorial standards.
Iheanyi Onwuegbucha from the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos has been selected to curate the two inaugural exhibitions which are MAKING MATTER: MATERIALITY AND TECHNOLOGY IN NIGERIAN ART and MIRRORING THE NATION: ART, SOCIETY AND POLITICS.
“With the museum’s mission to serve as a teaching resource, the two exhibitions were conceived with the students of PAU as the primary audience,” stated the curator Onwuegbucha, “the emphasis is on education on Nigerian culture and history”.
Prince Yemisi Shyllon searched long and hard for a “museum partnership arrangement” to secure a sustainablelegacy of his 7000 piece art collection.
The PAU agreement provides “structures that are expected to attract and manage individual and corporate sponsorship funds for the sustainability of the museum”, Shyllon says.
He hopes his example will provide the impetus for other Nigerian collectors to establish university museums that willstimulate art education in Nigeria.
Long live the YSMA!!