Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, OBE, the founding Director of V&A East, a museum and collection centre presently under construction. He was previously the Director of the Smithsonian Institution at the National Museum of African Art is currently a curator and cultural historian who writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on culture.
Over the course of his career Casely-Hayford has been a constant champion for the arts. He has presented two television series of The Lost Kingdoms of Africa or the BBC (and wrote the companion book), two television series of Tate Britain: Great Art Walks for Sky and has worked for every major British TV channel. His TED talk on Islamic culture has been viewed more than a million times. Former Executive Director of Arts Strategy, Arts Council England, (Britain’s major Art’s funder) and Ex – Director of the Institute of International Contemporary Art, he has offered leadership to both large and medium scale organizations. Dr Casely-Hayford has lectured widely on art and culture, including periods at Sothebys Institute, Goldsmiths, Birkbeck, City University, University of Westminster and SOAS. He has advised national and international bodies on heritage and culture including the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils. In 2005 he deployed these leadership, curatorial, fundraising and communications skills to organise the biggest celebration of Africa Britain has ever hosted with Africa 2005 when more than 150 organisations put on over 1000 exhibitions and events to showcase African culture.
In 2018 his contribution to the arts was formally acknowledged when Dr Casely-Hayford was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elisabeth II. Amongst a range of honours, he has also been awarded a Kings College cultural fellowship for service to the arts and a SOAS Honorary Fellowship for service to Africa. He speaks widely, gave a SOAS Centenary lecture, judged the Art Fund’s British Museum of the Year award, advised the Royal Shakespeare Company on their production of Hamlet and joined the English Heritage’s ‘Blue Plaques Group’. Gus wrote and presented two six-part TV series on British Landscape Art for Sky Arts, called Tate Britain: Great British Walks, he contributed to a landmark, Henry Louis Gates’ presented, PBS TV series on African history and a Discovery Channel series on World Culture. Gus has been a Trustee of the National Trust (Britain’s largest heritage organization), a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, a Committee member on Tate Britain Council, a Caine Prize Trustee, and has sat on the Tate For All Board.