The first privately-funded university museum in Nigeria, The Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art (YSMA), is set to open on the grounds of the Pan-Atlantic Univeristy, Lagos.
According to a report by The Art Newspaper, the initiator, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, said he wanted to give the museum “global impact” by donating about 1000 important art works from his 7,000-strong private collection, which is being managed by his Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation since 2007.
The museum, according to the report, will display traditional works of pre-colonial Nigeria to 20th century paintings by Ben Enwonwu, Lamidi Fakeye’s wood carvings and a wall-hanging sculpture by Ghanaian sculptor, El Anatsui.
YMSA will also display works owned by the university and those donated by other artists and
Having studied management at the Lagos Business School at PAU, 67-year-old Shyllon felt the need to find a “museum partnership arrangement to secure his art legacy”. A “strategic fit” he says, with a university that has for many years been promoting visual artists and conserving an art collection within its own buildings.
The renowned art collector then proposed building a university museum that would also host works from his collection three years after PAU launched a virtual museum of modern and contemporary Nigerian art, hoping to find a financier who would make the idea a reality.
The Art Newspaper quoted Shyllon as saying the agreement provides “structures that are expected to attract and manage individual and corporate sponsorship funds for the sustainability of the museum.” His grant to the YSMA is estimated at N600m by Financial Times and is designed to subsidise costs for a decade.
Shyllon, a Yoruba Prince of Ake in Abeokuta, hopes other Nigerian art collectors will follow his example and help found teaching museums that promote art education.
“Prince Shyllon wanted his collection to be seen by many people and serve the country,” YSMA’s director, Jess Castellote
said. “Hopefully this will be a contribution to the whole [Nigerian] system.”
The YSMA follows a wave of African museum openings resulting from private and foreign investments.