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The Creative District

Rebuilding cultural and
creative infrastructure

Photo Credit: 
Adjaye Architects. EMOWAA Museum, 2021.

EMOWAA aims to create a thriving Creative District

—an intimate campus within the ancient Kingdom walls, designed through the collaboration of local and international architects, with platforms for display, interaction, and commerce. Its constellation of facilities will showcase digital, performance, and visual art inspired by the rich local history and project its living culture into the future. It will be a place to celebrate contemporary creatives and empower the next generation of culture makers.

Moreover, the Creative District will contribute to economic growth and development in the region, bringing needed infrastructure, training, and opportunity to local creatives and scholars. EMOWAA’s ambitions demonstrate the local commitment to art and culture of the past, present, and future.

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The Creative District will be made up of:
The Pavilion

Our ambition is to create a world-class collections facility and establish a center of excellence for archeological science, conservation, and museum practice in West Africa.

The EMOWAA Pavilion is under construction and will be a space for learning and reconnection—a gateway between the sophistication of our shared past and the dynamism of our possible futures.

The Rainforest Gallery

Set in a rainforest garden, the Rainforest Gallery will allow for interaction with nature and a reflection of the influence of natural environment on art and artisanship in West Africa. Additionally, the Gallery will serve as a curatorial practice test lab, supporting the professionalization of curatorial practice and exhibition management in Africa.

Publics Garden

Connected across the Creative District, gardens and landscaped public space will welcome visitors looking to unwind in the lively Benin City Center. The gardens will also recognize those who lost their lives during the 1897.

Artisans Hall

A reconstruction of the ancient Kingdom’s audience hall, the Artisans Hall will serve as a curated retail space for local artisans; showcasing a living and thriving culture.

Creative Residences & Art Guesthouse

As part of the EMOWAA ecosystem for academics and artists, the Creative Residences and Art Guesthouse will provide accommodation for visiting researchers, academics and artists, was well as tourists.

The Museum

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

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

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