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National Museum of African Art Statement Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue

The National Museum of African Art’s mission is to inspire conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of African arts and cultures. We began planning for the Conversations exhibition two years ago to help showcase the history of American art created by persons of African descent. It brings the public’s attention to artists whose works have long been omitted from the study of American art history. We are aware of the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, who, along with his wife Camille, owns many of the works in the Conversations exhibition. Exhibiting this important collection does not imply any position on the serious allegations that have been made against Mr. Cosby. The exhibition is centrally about the artworks and the artists who created them.

Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria

Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, NigeriaChief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria opened Sept 17. This major exhibition showcases the photographs of Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994), one of Nigeria’s premier photographers and the first official photographer to the Royal Court of Benin. Alonge’s historic photographs document the rituals, pageantry and regalia of the court for more than a half-century and provide rare insight into the early history and practice of studio photography in West Africa.

Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994) is one of Nigeria’s premiere photographers and the first official photographer of the royal court of Benin, Nigeria. His work spans half-century and presents a dynamic continuous record of the reigns of Oba Akenzua II (1933–78) and Oba Erediauwa (1979–present) and the political and social events surrounding the royal palace. For five decades, Alonge photographed the royal wives and children, visiting dignitaries and politicians, and annual festivals and court ceremonies from a unique insider’s perspective.