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Cotonou - Benin

Palais de la Marina

The museum & the collection


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 first section, «Royal Treasures of Benin», reunites the 26 Royal Treasures recently returned by the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. These treasures, looted by General Dodds during the French colonial army’s capture of Abomey on November 17, 1892, have finally returned to their place of origin and creation after an exile of 129 years.
  • The second section, «Contemporary Art from Benin», brings together 34 contemporary artists and over a hundred artworks. Through a diverse range of mediums, aesthetics, and techniques, this part of the exhibition highlights the artistic vitality of the Beninese art scene.

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 assignment & the challenges


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 solutions & the result


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

Project

Palais de la Marina

Solutions

Custom Design
Infinity

Country

Benin

Year

2022

Type of museum

Résidence présidentielle

Designer

Les Crayons

Scope

6 combinations of modular Infinity showcases (2x1, 2x2, 1x3, 1x6)3 custom made showcases and 

More info

© Christophe Lubin


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