DIDI Museum, the famous art, culture and heritage promotion centre in Victoria Island, Lagos, turned 40 on May 11, and to celebrate, the management has designed a three-pronged programme around the theme “NO ART NO HSTORY”. Conceived by Dr Newton Jibunoh, who founded the museum in May 1983 in memory of his sister Edith Jibunoh, who died at an early age, it is recorded as the first private museum in Lagos.
The soil engineer, and former managing director, later chairman of construction giants, Costain West Africa, is, however, renowned for his keen interest in collection of both artefacts and contemporary art works in all its dimensions.
Sitting quietly but regally on Plot 175 Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, DIDI Museum has indeed, been the home of, and nurturer of the careers of many artists and culture workers, who often identified themselves as either “DIDI Artists” or “DIDI Museum Children” – because of the mutual affection and familial link they have shared with the facility over the decades.
To commemoration programme would remind the art producing and consuming community and indeed the general public, of its contribution to the Nigerian and African culture sectors over these four decades.
The celebration, deliberately designed to kick off on May 18, celebrated every year as the World Museum Day as designated by the UNESCO, is essentially to announce the new direction the museum intends to pursue in the coming decades of its existence. In particular, it would announce the formal berth of the museum in Delta State, the home state and current base of the 85-year-old founder.
Significantly too, the celebration will mark the formal opening of the Nelson Mandela Garden & Resorts, the 40-room lodging facility of the vast nature-resort located in the premises of the Asaba International Airport, and; which will be the new home of the DIDI Museum going forward. The facility will be formally introduced by Dewald Dgruger, Managing Director of Silk Road Hospitality, the new managing partners of the resort.
“Without the art, there is no history as the art documents our culture and heritage, and therefore history of civilisations over the centuries,” stated Dr Jibunoh in explaining the idea behind the theme.
At the heart of the celebration would be the opening of an exhibition of some of the works in the collection of the museum on Friday, May 20, which would be performed by the royal fathers of Kano and Benin. This is to honour and knowledge “the sustained contributions of the two royal kingdoms in the history of the museum, right from inception in 1983.”
The exhibition opening would be performed by Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, CFR, CNOL, Sarkin Kano (The Emir of Kano); and the Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Ukuakpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II of Benin Kingdom. On record, the fathers of the two monarchs played major roles at the opening of the museum in 1983., and in subsequent years. His Royal Highness Alhaji Ado Bayero, the then Emir of Kano, inaugurated the Museum on April 11, 1983, and served as its first Chairman of the Board of Trustees, also serving as royal father at some of its functions. The former Oba of Benin, Oba Akenzua II, was a patron and collector of the Museum’s works, and had officiated at some of its functions too.