The Smithsonian has announced that Augustus Casely-Hayford will be the next director of the National Museum of African Art, on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Currently a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Casely-Hayford—who goes by Gus—will begin his tenure February 5, 2018.
“Gus brings an impressive combination of knowledge, experience, communication skills, and passion to the National Museum of African Art,” the Smithsonian’s secretary, David Skorton, said in a press release. “His presence at the museum will boost its already prestigious programs and compelling exhibitions and inspire more people across the nation and around the world to explore the rich cultural heritage of African art.”
In addition to his work at the SOAS in London, Casely-Hayford has written for British television, most recently a six-part series last year for Sky Arts, Tate Britain: Great British Walks, in which actors follow the countryside paths of famous artists. He has also given a Ted Talk on pre-colonial Africa, provided guidance on a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet, lectured in Ghana, and served on the board of London’s National Portrait Gallery. Next year, Ladybird/Penguin will publish his book on the rise of the Mali Empire, and the development of the city of Timbuktu.
“It is such an exciting time to be joining the team at the National Museum of African Art,” Casely-Hayford said in the release. “African art is at another fascinating juncture as artists reconfigure our understanding of the medium, helping us to chart courses through the big issues of our time, while reminding us of the complex and long historical tradition upon which they stand.
The previous director of the African Art Museum was Johnnetta Cole, who announced her retirement in December 2016, and stepped down this past March.