National Museum of African Art

Augustus Casely-Hayford Named New Director

Casely-Hayford succeeds Johnnetta B. Cole, who retired this year after eight years as director.

Credit: Jaimie Gramston

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The Smithsonian Institution announced last Wednesday that Augustus (Gus) Casely-Hayford, an author, curator and broadcaster on African history and culture, will be the new director of the National Museum of African Art. He will take up the role in February 2018.

He is a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and a member of its Centre of African Studies Council. He sits on the Board of the Caine Prize for African literature, and presented two television series examining the pre-colonial history of Africa for British television.

Born in London, and of Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean descent, Casely-Hayford was educated at SOAS, where he received his doctorate in African history and was later awarded an honorary fellowship. As Director of Africa 05, he organized the largest African arts season in Britain with more than 150 venues hosting 1,000 events.

At the National Museum of African Gus Casely-Hayford succeeds Johnnetta B. Cole, who retired this year after eight years as director.

Gus brings an impressive combination of knowledge, experience, communication skills and passion to the National Museum of African Art,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton.

It is such an exciting time to be joining the team at the National Museum of African Art,” said Casely-Hayford. “African art is at another fascinating juncture as artists reconfigure our understanding of the medium, helping us to chart courses through the big issues of our time while reminding us of the complex and long historical tradition upon which they stand.”

I want to build upon the exemplary institutional history of the National Museum of African Art and continue to deliver the very best of historical and contemporary African art to new and existing audiences alike,” he added. “I cannot wait to get to work.

A former board member of London’s National Portrait Gallery, Casely-Hayford is currently working on an exhibition for the gallery that will tell the story of the abolition of slavery through 18th- and 19th-century portraits. He is also a Trustee of the National Trust (the U.K.’s largest heritage organization), a member of the Blue Plaque Group, a Clore Fellow, a fellow of the Cultural Institute at Kings College London and author of an upcoming book on Timbuktu and the rise of the Mali Empire (Ladybird/Penguin, 2018).

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www.africa.si.edu