Besides an implied mandate to collect Nigeria’s modern art, the National Gallery of Art has wormed its way into the industry’s consciousness thanks to its penchant for publications. It is not surprising, therefore, that the gallery devoted almost an entire day to highlight this aspect of its activity.
Indeed, since the years of its pioneer chief executive, Dr Paul Chike Dike, filling the documentation gap in the vibrant local art scene has been its focus. Not even the problem of poor funding has dampened its enthusiasm in this endeavour.
Indeed, the presentation of books and exhibition of publications of the NGA, on Thursday, March 14, at the Radio House premises in Abuja, was the National Gallery of Art’s outgoing director-general Alhaji Abdullahi Sabo Muku a time to cast a backward glance at the journey so far. “The works you are about to view emanated from our signature programmes such as the National Symposium on Nigerian Art and the Annual Distinguished Lecture series, among others,” he had told the gathering. “The current publication itself is a compendium of National Gallery of Art’s publications showing the developmental stages and how much we have achieved in this direction.”
Muku also hoped that the exhibition, which is designed to encourage reading culture, would help make the works accessible to more people than ever before. “We are also offering them online to a wider public across the world,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the NGA’s Governing Board’s chairman, Ambassador Azores Sulaiman, informed the gathering that the gallery takes documentation as seriously as it treats visual arts promotion and empowerment of artists from the length and breadth of the country, adding that “it has grown to become one of Nigeria’s repositories of books and publications in the visual arts sub-sector.”
The one-day event was graced by such distinguished personalities as the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, a representative of the guest of honour and the information and culture minister Lai Mohammed, the director-general of the National Council of Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka-based emeritus professor of art history and criticism, Ola Oloidi and a representative of the chief executive of the National Library of Nigeria, Professor Lenrie Olatokunbo Aina, among others.