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


  • Smithsonian National Museum of African Art 950 Independence Avenue Southwest Washington, DC, 20560 United States

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

“Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria,” is on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art through Sept. 13, 2015. Curated by Amy Staples, the museum’s senior archivist, “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria” represents a unique collection of archival photographs documenting the traditional arts and culture of the Benin kingdom.

The retrospective exhibition showcases the work of noted Nigerian photographer Chief S.O. Alonge, the first indigenous photographer of the Royal Court of Benin, in conjunction with royal arts from the Benin kingdom.  The collection of historic photographs was captured on Kodak glass-plate negatives and documents more than 50 years of the ritual, pageantry and regalia of the obas (kings), their wives and retainers. Alonge’s photographs reveal an unique insider’s view of the Benin royal family and court ceremonies, including historic visits by Queen Elizabeth (1956), foreign dignitaries, traditional rulers, political leaders and celebrities. The collection preserves an important historical record of Benin arts and culture during the periods of British colonial rule and the transition to Nigerian independence during the 1950s and 1960s. As Nigerians celebrate 100 years as a united country (1914–2014), this exhibition celebrates the role Nigerian photographers have played in documenting their own history and addressing issues of identity, nationhood and memory.

Visitors can see the exhibition from now through Sept. 13, 2015  at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art on the National Mall.

More information: http://africa.si.edu/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/alonge