Special event
The future of museum architecture in Africa: Sir David Adjaye & Hartwig Fischer in conversation

Saturday 2 February 2019,
15.00–16.00
Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

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At this special event, British Museum Director Hartwig Fischer joins Sir David Adjaye to discuss the future of museum construction in Africa, as well as the Museum’s own engagements with a series of ambitious new West African museum projects.

A number of ambitious museum building initiatives have been developed in recent years in sub-Saharan Africa, driven in part by local economic, political and cultural concerns. African museums are faced with the re-definition of inherited colonial-era museum architecture – and the creation of new architecture that relates more effectively to the interests, experiences and diversity of contemporary audiences.

There is a movement in Africa to build new museums that incorporate historical memories, encapsulate diverse identities, and aspire to engage younger generations while attempting to shed the mantle of colonialism to create a new dialogue and heritage for the 21st century. Sir David Adjaye is an architect at the forefront of this new museum enterprise. With a series of flagship museum buildings in his portfolio, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, he is currently engaged in a series of new museum initiatives in Africa.

Sir David Adjaye OBE is the principal and founder of Adjaye Associates. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his broadly ranging influences, ingenious use of materials and sculptural ability have established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision. His largest project to date, the $540 million Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in autumn of 2016 and was named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times. In 2017, he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen.

Dr Hartwig Fischer became Director of the British Museum in 2016. He was previously the Director General of the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) where he was responsible for fourteen museums and four separate institutions in three cities. His focus was on modernising and developing the State Art Collections, which date back to the 16th century. Dr Fischer was Director of the Folkwang Museum in Essen (2006–2012). While in post he oversaw the construction of a new building designed by Sir David Chipperfiled and restoration of the historic museum. He began his museum career at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, where he was curator of 19th-century and Modern Art from 2001–2006.


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Hartwig Fischer & Sir David Adjaye. Photo: Benedict Johnson & Ed Reeve