By Nicole Webb
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY-Saturday, April 12, The Lincoln University celebrated the grand opening of the Danjuma African Art Center featuring the Nigerian General, himself, Theophilus Danjuma.
The opening of the Danjuma African Art Center comes as an initiative of the university to continue to connect the institution’s history and culture with the African heritage and culture. The art museum was named after Danjuma for his monetary sponsorship and support in the development of the museum.
According to the university’s blog, cubstolions.com, the museum’s art collection features lithographs, collographs, and relief prints from artists representing Nigeria, Cuba, Senegal, and South Africa. The museum also features sculptures, masks, vases, totems, pottery and jewelry from Nigeria, Congo, Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, Ethiopia and Angla.
The museum’s galleries feature art donations from Robert Freeman, Jr. ‘41, Franklin H. Williams ‘41, Rev. Irvin W. Underhill, Jr. in memory of his wife, the late Susan Reynolds Underhill, Corine Thompson in memory of her late husband, Eugene Thompson, and Dave and Karina Rilling among others.
All art pieces housed in the museum are donations of African art and artifacts received by the university from alumni, faculty, visiting scholars and dignitaries.
Saturday’s grand opening featured a performance from the university’s concert choir, gospel choir, special presentations from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Student Government Association President and the university’s art and music departments, and the dedication of the museum to Danjuma by university president, Robert R. Jennings.
Jennings reflected that having the general present for the grand opening was a prestige, within itself.
“I am happy that this day has finally come. We are so pleased that General Danjuma would come and be a part of opening of the museum in his honor.’
Attendees of the grand opening featured students and faculty alike, including those of African descent.
“I think this an amazing thing for the university to have,” stated Olutoyin Olowookere, a freshman and newly elected Executive Secretary of Student Government Association. “Being of African descent, it’s amazing to see that our university is invested in our roots and culture.”
“The history of Lincoln is already great but now, we have a museum that can broaden our horizons even further. [The museum] is going to give people a chance to see how beautiful we really are [as a people]. When you know where you’ve come from, you know where you’re going,” reflected Dustin Fowler, graduating senior and current Mr. Lincoln University.
Saturday’s grand opening also sparked a conversation for the need of a Black Studies program as a part of the university’s curriculum.
“If we’re really going to be true to our heritage of African innovation, of Africans in the forefront, then we need to normalize the study of African people worldwide,” argued Evelyn Davis-Poe, Assistant Director of the university’s Learning Resource Center. “Until we bring it full circle into the curriculum, it’s not really real to us.”
“I hope people take advantage of [this]. It’s important to know where our [history] has started,” stated Jabari Jefferson, a sophomore and art major of the university.
During the museum’s grand opening reception, held in the dining hall of the university’s International Cultural Center, Danjuma pledged to remain invested into the museum’s growth and success.
“I will continue to show interest in what goes on here [at Lincoln]…and to also make sure that the contents of this building are in good order and that they continue to grow as time goes by,” stated Danjuma, who is also the current chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) of Nigeria.
The museum is expected to officially open to the public in the beginning of May, after renovations to the building’s flooring and elevator are completed. The university also plans to install a classroom and student art display space in the near future.