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Gus Casely-Hayford

Augustus (Gus) Lavinus Casely-Hayford
Casely-Hayford (2015)
Born Augustus Lavinus Casely-Hayford
April 1964
Wandsworth, London, UK
Alma mater School of Oriental and African Studies
Occupation curator, historian

Augustus Casely-Hayford is a British curator and cultural historian with Ghanaian roots.[1] He has been Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., since February 2018. He was awarded an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in June 2018. He was commissioned to present a second TV series of Tate Walks for Sky Arts in 2017 featuring David Bailey, Helena Bonham Carter, Billy Connelly, Robert Lindsay, Jeremy Paxman and Harriet Walker . He has been awarded the Leader of the Year for Arts and Media by the Black British Business Awards 2017. He has delivered a TED talk.[2] He has been awarded a Cultural Fellowship at King's College, London, and a Fellowship at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).[3] In 2016 he presented the television series Tate Walks for Sky Arts. In 2010, as part of the Wonderful Africa Season,[4] he presented Lost Kingdoms of Africa, four 60-minute television programmes for BBC Two and BBC Four;[5] in 2014, the series was broadcast by the French-speaking TV channel Histoire. He was commissioned to present a second series in February 2012. He wrote the book Lost Kingdoms of Africa in 2012, published by Bantam Press. He presented a study of William Hogarth and the 18th century for the television series The Genius of British Art, on Channel 4, in 2010 and hosted The Culture Show for BBC 2 in 2012.[6] He has written a Ladybird/Penguin book on Timbuktu to be published in 2018.



Born in London, England, into a prominent Ghanaian family, Casely-Hayford gained a PhD in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University.[7][8] He is the former Executive Director of Arts Strategy for Arts Council England.[9][10] He was previously Director of inIVA (Institute of International Visual Art),[11] a London-based arts organisation with a particular emphasis on international practice, which collaborates with partner venues throughout the UK and worldwide. Prior to this he was the Director of Africa 05, the largest African arts season ever hosted in Britain,[12] involving more than 150 cultural organisations, including the BBC.[13] He also led the British Museum's diversity programme.[13] He has advised the United Nations and the Canada Council, Council for Culture of the Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils, and commissioned to develop the future audience vision for the Tate family of galleries. In 2012 he was a Jury member of the National Open Art Competition and the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award. In 2013 he was the Chair of the Caine Prize judges. He was chair of the advisory panel for the 2015 British Library exhibition West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song and co-authored the accompanying book of the same title.[14][15]

He has presented an award-winning South Bank show on African art, produced a documentary on Chris Ofili for Channel 4 and presented several series on African culture for BBC World Service. He has presented Brit Art: Where to Now? for BBC Four.[16] He was a commissioner of arts for the Greater London Authority.

He lectures on world art at Sotheby's, Goldsmiths College and the University of Westminster, and is a consultant for organisations such as the United Nations, the Arts Council and the BBC. He is a Clore Fellow and is a Trustee of the National Trust, a member of English Heritage's Blue Plaque Group and a member of Tate's "Tate for All Board". He is a Judge for the Art Fund's "Museum of the Year" in 2016. He was formerly a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a Council Member of Tate Britain. He also sits on the Caine Prize Council[17] and is a spokesperson for the National Archives' Explore Your Archive programme. Casely-Hayford is a supporter of Sense International.[18][19]

Personal lifeEdit

He is the brother of fashion designer Joe Casely-Hayford, OBE, and of lawyer Margaret Casely-Hayford, and the grandson of J. E. Casely Hayford (1866–1930), the great Gold Coast thinker, writer and politician.[20] He is married and has one daughter. The family are living in Washington DC in 2018. [21]



  1. ^ "Ghana at Fifty: Leaders on the UK Arts scene – A selection of profiles of the UK’s leading figures in the arts, all Ghana-born or with Ghanaian roots", BBC Africa Beyond website. Archived 4 January 2013 at
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Staff, Centre of African Studies, SOAS.
  4. ^ "Wonderful Africa Season". BBC. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Lost Kingdoms of Africa", BBC Four.
  6. ^ "The Genius of British Art – Series 1 – Episode 2 – Art for the People". Channel 4. 10 October 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "SOAS Radio: a conversation with Dr Gus Casely-Hayford", SOAS World Stories.
  8. ^ Augustus Casely-Hayford profile, The Guardian.
  9. ^ "50 Leading British Ghanaians"
  10. ^ "ACE appoints Arts Strategy Director", Artists' Interaction & Representation, January 2007.
  11. ^ Professor Stuart Hall, "Chairman's Statement", 2005 to 2006 Institute of International Visual Arts Annual Report.
  12. ^ Margaret Busby, "Vision for change", New Statesman, 10 January 2005.
  13. ^ a b "Arts Council England Makes Two Key leadership Appointments", Arts Council England, 5 December 2006.
  14. ^ "West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song" (press release), British Library, 15 October 2015.
  15. ^ Thembi Mutch, "From Timbuktu to Trinidad: British Library launches dazzling West Africa show", The Guardian, 16 October 2015.
  16. ^ Nicola Lees, "Greenlit: Brit Art – Where to Now? BBC4", TV Mole, 17 September 2009.
  17. ^ Council Members Archived 9 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Caine Prize website.
  18. ^ "Dr Gus Casely-Hayford lends his support to Sense International", Sense International, 22 July 2013.
  19. ^ McGlone, Peggy (September 27, 2017). "Smithsonian hires British curator and filmmaker to head African Art Museum". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 27, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, Cultural Historian: 'Kobina Sekyi and my own grandfather Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford were unafraid to be daring and innovative… their work demonstrates a complete understanding of history'", Africa Writes.
  21. ^ Freeman, Liam. "How Gus Casely-Hayford Is Reclaiming The Art Of Africa". Retrieved 2018-06-03. 

External linksEdit