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The Museum will exhibit West African artworks and artefacts, past and present, while serving as a centre for curatorial excellence and contemporary creativity.

Photo Credit: The Benin Bronzes on display at the British Museum.


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The David Adjaye-designed building complex will be situated at the heart of the historic quarter of Benin City, enclosed by the ruins of the Benin Earthworks that guarded the capital of the ancient kingdom. The architectural vision is to use archaeology to connect the new museum with the surrounding landscape by revitalizing and incorporating the surviving remains of the walls, moats and gates of the historic Benin City, seen throughout the modern city today. Excavations may reveal evidence of historic buildings that may be retained in their original position and become part of the visitor experience.


EMOWAA Museum Roof Plan. Adjaye Architects 2021


EMOWAA Museum First Floor Plan. Adjaye Architects 2021


EMOWAA Museum Ground Floor Plan. Adjaye Architects 2021

Located in the heart of the thousand-year-old Benin City, EMOWAA will be a complex of multiple buildings and outdoor spaces inspired by historical typologies.

A courtyard in the form of a public garden will feature indigenous flora and provide a welcoming green environment for gatherings, ceremonies and events. The galleries, which float above the garden, are articulated by a series of elevated volumes – an inversion of the courtyard typology – reconstructed archaeological features of Benin City.

This enables the Museum’s objects to be arranged in their pre-colonial context and offers visitors an understanding of the significance of these artefacts within historic traditions, political economy and rituals. EMOWAA will allow visitors not just the possibility of ’looking in’ at the collection but also of ’looking out’ into the landscape to imagine the borders of a restored ancient kingdom.

Decoupling from the Western museum model, EMOWAA will perform as a reteaching tool: a place for recalling lost collective memories to instil an understanding of the magnitude and importance of these civilizations and cultures.

— Sir David Adjaye, OBE, Adjaye Associates