The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on states to emulate Edo in collaborating with the federal government to promote culture, tourism and the arts.
Mohammed made the call at the opening of Benin Exhibition Gallery, a collaboration between Edo government, National Commission for Museums and Monuments and Smithsonian Institution USA, held at King-square in Benin on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exhibition focused on photographic works of Chief Solomon Alonge, photographer to Royal Court of Benin kingdom during the reign of Oba Akenzua II.
Represented by Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Mr. Yusuf Usman, the minister said synergy between states and federal government would guarantee diversification of Nigeria’s economy whilst showcasing its rich culture.
Gov Godwin Obaseki, while appreciating the Smithsonian Institution, said the exhibition would add to state’s quest to develop tourism as it makes a connection between past and present.
The governor said art was assuming a wider national importance and the possibility of it being developed as a self sustaining alternative to oil revenue was now being appreciated across the country.
“The role of a museum as a tourist centre cannot be over emphasised especially as a state known for its artistic and cultural heritage.
“We have good international image in the area of art following centuries of creative work of excellence”.
Earlier, U. S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Stuart Symington described the occasion as historic to both Nigeria and America.
The Director Emerita, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, USA, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, said that the exhibition was first in Africa and to showcase the rich culture of Benin kingdom.