Technology has effortlessly infiltrated the way we think, feel and interact with the world around us. While this infiltration has famously influenced how we interact with ourselves and the world around us, it also has the possibility of deeply impacting how we interact with our history, current struggles and future as a people. Technology can help us reclaim our historical identity and cultural presence as Nigerians.
Mosope Olaosebikan is a Nigerian innovator and entrepreneur who is passionate about the possibilities technology has to offer when it comes to storytelling. His exploration of this concept birthed The Discovery Museum, the first digital museum in West Africa.
Located within the entrepreneur’s expansive tech hub- The Art Tech District, The Discovery Museum has progressively changed the narrative surrounding redundant museum culture to one that is immersive and memorable using cutting-edge technology and digital-storytelling. The museum aims to bridge the gap between Nigeria’s historical past and the next generation while building a community of creatives, and providing them with a safe space and platform to express themselves.
The Discovery Museum continues to fascinate visitors from all over the world including notable dignitaries such as the Deputy General of the United Nations, Mrs. Amina J Muhammad, and held great exhibitions which showcased the works of prominent digital artists such as Renike Olusanya and Anthony Azekwoh. This success has enabled Mosope Olaosebikan to change the way we see our history and culture, and also empower youths through numerous tech-enhanced projects and experiential spaces, cementing his status as a game changer in the Nigerian tech, tourism and hospitality sectors.
More Branches caught up with entrepreneur, where he talks about his journey into tech, creating the Discovery Museum and Art-tech District, the impact he hopes to achieve through the museum and future projects in the pipeline.
Describe a profound moment that would spark your foray into tech and entrepreneurial journey?
I’ve always been a curious human looking to understand the now, but most importantly, what’s next for society and the world around me. My first experience with actually using my curiosity to bring an idea to fruition was in 2009 when at the Redeemers University in Nigeria, I noticed a gap in the school’s admission process and came up with a solution for it.
The university used a physical application process at the time that required prospective students to visit a location for their entrance examinations and documentation. I wanted to reduce the stressful physicality of it all, so I created an app that allowed electronic exams and documentation anywhere in the world.
Watching this become a success pushed me further to see just how many gaps I could find in our society and how I could come up with solutions to fill those gaps. I haven’t looked back since then. From museums to experiential restaurants like Kappadocia, Amazonia and Sketch, I am always on a quest to find something challenging that can also be impactful for the society as well.
What inspired your vision to create the Discovery Museum, the first digital museum in West Africa?
I got the idea when I first visited the American Writers Museum in Chicago. I saw that museums don’t need to be humongous. It could be this cozy and yet innovative. The experience of seeing how tech can be used to bring history and culture to life was transformative. And despite Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, it doesn’t exactly have a national museum like other countries in the world. I saw the need to fill this gap in the country’s cultural landscape by leveraging digital technology to create a museum that could not only promote Nigeria’s culture but also make it accessible to a wider audience.
What feeds your vision and creativity?
As an entrepreneur, my vision and creativity are fed by a deep desire to innovate and create something meaningful and impactful. I am motivated by the idea of making a difference in my country and the world at large by using digital technology to tell our Nigerian story and preserve our history and culture through generations. I am inspired by the power of technology and its ability to connect people across the globe, and I believe that the Discovery Museum is a good example of how technology can be used to preserve and share cultural heritage.
Why is it important to change the narrative of Nigeria’s history and culture through tech?
Changing the narrative of Nigeria’s history and culture through technology is important for several reasons.
For one, it allows us to present a more accurate and nuanced view of our history and culture to the world. Nigeria has a rich and diverse history that has often been misrepresented or overlooked in mainstream narratives. Through technology, we can showcase the many different aspects of our culture, from our art and music to our traditions and beliefs, in a way that is accessible to not just Nigerians in the country, but to those in the diaspora and all over the world.
Also, a digital museum provides an opportunity for us to preserve and protect our cultural heritage for future generations. Many aspects of our culture and history are in danger of being lost as the world becomes more globalized, and as traditional ways of life are abandoned. By digitizing our cultural stories, we can ensure that they are preserved and accessible to future generations.
What challenges did you face while building the Discovery Museum?
A major challenge I believe most Nigerian entrepreneurs can relate to involves sorting out logistics in a country like ours. The Discovery Museum is the first of its kind and even though I had a clear vision for what I wanted, building a museum like this required expertise in various areas including architecture and design, digital technology, and virtual reality storytelling. I wanted to work with Nigerian artisans as well, so there were challenges trying to assemble the right team of experts with the right skills to help bring the vision to life.
Despite these challenges, we were able to overcome them through hard work, persistence, and collaboration with a small but dedicated team of young creatives who share my visions for creating a sustainable museum that caters to our cultural education and entertainment needs.
How can young creatives in digital art partner with international stakeholders to push the Nigerian story to the global forefront?
I would suggest looking into how they can collaborate with artists from around the world. Globalization has made it easier to network outside of our shores, and I believe that artists collaborating brings about the development of new perspectives and fresh ideas to the creative process. It will also go a long way to promote Nigerian culture and art to a global audience.
Partnering with local organizations is another option to explore. Partnering with local organizations that support innovation and culture like the Discovery Museum can provide young creatives with opportunities to showcase their work and build relationships with stakeholders. For instance, we have, among our regular partners, international organizations such as the British Council, the US Embassy, and the French Institute in Nigeria. We introduce the work of young artists who partner with us to these international stakeholders for support and promotion.
By taking advantage of the opportunities for partnering and networking with us, young creatives can push the Nigerian story to the global forefront and showcase the rich culture and creativity Nigeria has to offer to the world.
What impact would you like to see on museum culture and technology in the next generation?
Increased accessibility. I believe that museums should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, socio-economic status, or location.
I would also like to see an increased integration of immersive technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality into museum exhibitions and installations. We are already doing this at the Discovery Museum. These technologies can provide visitors with a more engaging and interactive experience, making learning about history and culture more exciting and memorable.
I also believe that museums have a responsibility to promote sustainability and environmental awareness. The Discovery Museum is a strong advocate of the 17 SGGs, which explains our choice of building materials (abandoned shipping containers) for the museum.
Overall, I hope to see museums continue to evolve and embrace technology while remaining true to their mission of educating, inspiring, and preserving our cultural heritage for future generations.
What does the future look like for the Discovery Museum?
The future of the Discovery Museum is bright and exciting. We plan to continue to leverage technology to host innovative and engaging exhibitions that showcase the rich culture and history of Nigeria.
We plan to have the Discovery Museum transcend Nigeria to become a museum that showcases the beauty and diversity of African culture and history in an immersive and entertaining way. We want the museum to become a cultural center for conversations about poignant issues of the past, present and future. We don’t want to be a mere physical edifice on the sidelines, but a vital part of enacting change on the continent.
The Discovery Museum is currently exploring the use of the latest virtual reality technologies to create immersive experiences that transport visitors to different periods in Nigerian history. We have to keep challenging ourselves to keep up with and also look for ways to encourage technological innovations.
We also plan to establish partnerships with international organizations and stakeholders to promote the museum and the story it tells, and to collaborate on new exhibits and cultural events that can leave an indelible impact on our creative community.
Finally, a digital museum has the potential to boost tourism and economic growth in Nigeria. It can attract people from around the world who are interested in learning more about our culture and history, and provide an opportunity for local artisans and entrepreneurs to showcase their work and generate income. By changing the narrative of Nigeria’s history and culture through technology, we can create new opportunities and showcase the best that Nigeria has to offer to the world
What’s next for Mosope Olaosebikan? Any exciting projects we should anticipate?
I believe Electronic Vehicles (EVs) are the future of transport globally, and because I’m always looking towards the future, investing here feels like the next step for me. Outside of creating a more sustainable mode of transportation and addressing climate change, EVs are expected to reduce the burden crude oil currently carries as the primary energy source for the cars we drive.
I’m excited to enter this phase of my journey and show other Nigerians that getting EVs to work in Nigeria is possible.