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DIDI Museum celebrates 50 with Journey to Mastery exhibition

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By Prisca Duru

Owner of the first indigenous museum in Nigeria, The Desert Warrior, Chief Newton Jibunoh, is in a celebration mood as DIDI Museum turns golden.

•From left: Uche Edochie; Chief Newton Jibunoh; the curators, Ifeoma Dozie, Ceejay Jibunoh and Ayoola at the press briefing in Lagos.

A lot of activities including an arts exhibition titled, “Journey to Mastery” have been put in place to celebrate the Museum’s 50 years of excellence in support of the art and culture sector.

“Journey to Mastery” is curated by two of Dr Jibunoh’s children: Ifeoma Dozie and Ceejay Jibunoh. It features two artists, Uche Edochie and Ayoola who will be exhibiting eleven works each. And to spice up the show, works collected by DIDI Museum for 6 decades will also be on display. While works by Edozie and Ayoola will be up for sale, those by DIDI will only be available to relive memories  about the good old days and also to make a statement regarding how far the industry has come in terms of efforts made at promoting artists and their works.

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The exhibition which opens on the 18 April 2019 and runs till the 27th is expected to be graced by eminent art grand masters and others who have benefited from Chief Jibunoh as a notable collector.

Speaking at a press conference heralding the event, the Desert Warrior said “works of 6 decades will be on display and I must say that the press has played wonderful role in promoting activities of DIDI Museum as well as in letting Nigerians know that we have beautiful works by beautiful artists.”

Reliving memory about how it all began Chief Jibunoh said, “I began collecting works 60 years ago but decided to set up the Museum 50 years ago. I was faced with the question of how I was going to ensure that the museum outlives me. It was a huge one considering the kind of system we operate in. Even collecting works was not easy but I had good understanding with artists like Bruce Onabrakpeya. I think today, with what you’re seeing here, that question is being answered. I did not force my children to create this show, they came to me and said they would like to put up the exhibition to celebrate DIDI’s 50th anniversary. At first I saw it as a marathon but now I see it as a relay race and I have successfully handed over the baton to them.”

The co-curator, Ifeoma Dozie said, “This is a celebration of the Journey of DIDI Museum in the collection and preservation of African Art that spans over six decades and a celebration of the journey of self-expression, engagement, discovery and poetic narration the two artists have embarked on over the years.”

On why Chief Jibunoh’s children are curating his show, Ifeoma explained that “it is only natural that Newton Jibunoh’s children are curating this show as we were born and raised surrounded by art. Paintings and sculptures were our tapestry, our visual stimuli, our entertainment and stories. Growing up, DIDI Museum was our home, artists were our friends and artists’ studios were our playground.  Art is in our DNA.”

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