The Design Museum in London has launched an exhibition examining the role of monuments and memorials in the 21st century, and it features seven projects by the British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, including a glimpse of some that have yet to be built.

The exhibition called Making Memory sets out to show that contemporary monuments are no longer “static” objects – such as plaques, statues or neo-classical sculptures – but dynamic and complex spaces created to serve a wider purpose.

Exemplifying that idea will be projects by Adjaye such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, the new National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra and the proposed UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London.

“The monument is no longer a representation, it is an experience of time and place that is available to everyone,” said Adjaye. “Whether it’s for a nation, a race, a community, or a person, it is really used as a device to talk about the many things facing people across the planet.”

The show offers a visual survey of monuments and memorials throughout history, beginning with the Acropolis of Athens (447 BC) and continuing through to the 2018 Millicent Fawcett statue by Gillian Wearing in London.

Each of Adjaye’s seven projects has a dedicated room with specially commissioned video interviews and immersive, site-specific displays.

Among highlights, a Yoruba sculpture that inspired Adjaye’s design for the Smithsonian museum appears at the centre of its respective room, while the room dedicated to the National Cathedral of Ghana is populated with traditional Asante umbrellas, whose form was an inspiration for the cathedral’s roof.


One of Adjaye’s major projects is the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., United States. Photo: AFP

Other highlights include a full-scale section of the Sclera Pavilion for London Design Festival 2008 and a replica library area from the Gwangju River Reading Room in South Korea.

Among Adjaye’s ongoing projects featured: the show offers the first chance to see an in-depth display of the proposed Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Boston, designed to be a place for action and assembly.

Others include the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre and MEMO – the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory – proposed for a coastal site in Dorset. – AFP Relaxnews