In February 2022, the Palais de la Marina, the official residence of the President of the Republic, opened its doors to the temporary exhibition «Benin Art of Yesterday and Today: From Restitution to Revelation». This remarkable event celebrates the restitution of Benin’s heritage and the promotion of its contemporary creation. It also reflects the country’s ambition to establish several internationally renowned museums in the coming years.
Spanning over 2,300m2, the exhibition takes place within the heart of the Presidential Palace, offering a museum route that consists of two distinct sections :
The Royal Treasures collection, for which Meyvaert was commissioned to provide the casework, displays a variety of historical pieces that represent the diversity of Benin’s ancestral art. This collection includes statues, sculpted doors, elaborate thrones, portable altars, and ceremonial stools.
The «Benin Art of Yesterday and Today: From Restitution to Revelation» exhibition is part of a broader project led by the architectural firm Les Crayons. This project includes not only the temporary exhibition at the Palais de la Marina but also the renovation of the Musée d’Histoire de Ouidah and the Musée International de la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (MIME) at Fort Sao Joao Baptista. These museums are designed to permanently house the Royal Treasures. With this initiative, the government of Benin aims to promote Beninese art and culture, positioning itself as a pioneer in the restoration and restitution of works stolen during the colonial era.
When designing the scenography for the Royal Treasures exhibition, Meyvaert had to meet the scenographers’ request for adaptable and durable solutions, all within strict time and budget constraints.
The collaboration between Meyvaert and the architects was both innovative and flexible, allowing for personalized responses and a range of solutions that catered to the specific needs of the displayed elements. It also enabled the creation of a cohesive visual identity tailored to the overall scenography. To properly present the diverse items, a variety of showcases were designed, incorporating modular and demountable showcases from our Infinity range. For special large-format works, bespoke showcases were created as needed. Additionally, table cases were planned for smaller, delicate pieces.
Furthermore, our commitment to museum solutions was accompanied by our project support to ensure the preservation & protection of the artworks. The dedicated showcases for this project were ergonomic, efficient, and demountable, designed for simplicity of implementation and use, considering the context of Cotonou. Meyvaert takes great pride in being involved in this contemporary museographic approach, which allows for the presentation, conservation, and protection of this unique heritage in its native region.
© Christophe Lubin