By Christine Kreamer

June 1, 2011

A great tree has fallen. The family of Ekpo Eyo, emiment archaeologist, professor and museologist, requested that colleagues be informed of his passing.  Professor Eyo was awarded ACASA's leadership award in 2004.  Emails of condolences to his wife Augusta, his son, Etim, and daughter-in-law Medupe, can be posted on the site and I will forward them to the family.  His funeral service is still being planned.

Drawing from his bio on the website of University of Maryland, College Park, information below highlights aspects of his long and distinguished career, though much more could be said about this outstanding scholar and his contributions to the fields of African art history and archaeology:

Professor Ekpo Eyo specialized in African art.  During his years as a professor of art history and archaeology at the University of Maryland, College Park, he directed archaeological field work at three important Nigerian sites, Ile-Ife, Owo, and Ikom. He reported the findings of those expeditions and his further research in the Unesco Courier, The West African Journal of Archaeology, Africa Heute, Insight: The Quarterly of World Affairs, African Arts and other journals.

Ekpo Eyo was the first Nigeran-born head of the Nigerian National Commission for Museum and Monuments.  His recent book From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art was published in 2010 by the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, Abuja).  His books lso include Two Thousand Years of Nigerian Art (Imprimerie Marsens, Laussane) and, with co-author Frank Willet, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria: A Legacy of Two Thousand Years (Alfred Knopf, New York).  Over the past few years, he completed a manuscript (unpublished to date) on the royal arts of Owo, a major focus of his research.

Professor Eyo was honored in 2004 with an ACASA Leadership Award and he was named Smithsonian Regency Fellow in 1984. His work involved on-site study of the monoliths of the Cross River region of eastern Nigeria, a project funded by the French Dapper Foundation, the L.J. and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, and the University's Graduate School. He was also consultant to a major exhibition of African art that opened in 1995 at the Royal Academy of Art, London. Professor Eyo was a participant in an international symposium, The Part of Archaeology in the Cross-Cultural Dialogue between North and South, held in Switzerland under the sponsorship of the Swiss-Liechtenstein Foundation for Archaeological Research and the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Ekpo Eyo will forever be remembered for scholarly contributions and for his devotion to his family and friends.  We send our deepest condolences to his family and to his many friends around the world.

Christine Mullen Kreamer, PhD
Deputy Director & Chief Curator
National Museum of African Art,
Smithsonian Institution

My condolences to Dr. Ekpo Eyo's dear family

Dr. Eyo was a beloved teacher, colleague, cultural ambassador, and scholar who I had the privilege of meeting at the National Museum in Lagos in the late 1970s and early 80s.  He was most supportive of field work being carried out to document the carving styles of traditional Yoruba artists in southwest Nigeria. He generously provided the platform for many researchers to come to Lagos and collaborate together while studying, sorting, and identifying the museum's extensive ere ibeji collection of forty-five hundred examples by state, area, carving compound, generation, and individual hand. He granted me access to the Kenneth Murray photo archive and other cataloging materials for my own research on artistic style.

Dr. Eyo leaves behind a great legacy of advocacy for the preservation of Nigerian cultural heritage and the history of antiquity in Africa.

Deborah Stokes
Curator for Education
National Museum of African Art
Smithsonian Institution