SOAS University of London

About SOAS

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE is an art historian who writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on African culture. He is best known for his major BBC TV series The Lost Kingdoms of Africa, using new archaeological and anthropological research to explore the pre-colonial history of some of Africa’s most important kingdoms. Former Executive Director of Arts Strategy, Arts Council England, and Ex-Director of the Institute of International Visual Art, he has advised the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils and the Tate Gallery. He initiated and became the Director of Africa 05, the largest African arts season ever hosted in Britain, when over 150 venues collaborated to host more than 1000 events.

Recently, he has co-written and edited the book West Africa: word, symbol and song, and has published many articles including in the popular press. He is a SOAS research associate and recently chaired the development and delivery team on the British Library’s biggest ever exhibition to focus upon African intellectual tradition, Africa: word, symbol song, whilst advising Tate Britain on a major exhibition, Artist and Empire. He is currently expending the majority of his energies in the development of a National Portrait Gallery exhibition that will tell the story of abolition of slavery through 18th and 19th century portraits.

He is currently working on a series, Tate Walks, for Sky Arts and is a Cultural Fellow of King’s College London. He has this year been awarded a Kings College honorary fellowship for service to the arts, been asked to give a SOAS Centenary lecture, invited to sit on the panel to judge and select the British museum of the year, advise the Royal Shakespeare Company and to join the Blue Plaque Group. Dr Casely-Hayford is also a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, a Caine Prize Council Member and an Ambassador for Sense International. He was an OBE for his services to arts and culture in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.