Gus Casely-Hayford

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Augustus (Gus) Casely-Hayford

Casely-Hayford (2015)
Augustus Lavinus Casely-Hayford

Wandsworth, London, UK
Alma materSchool of Oriental and African Studies
OccupationCurator, historian, broadcaster, lecturer
RelativesJ. E. Casely Hayford (grandfather);
Joe Casely-Hayford (brother), Margaret Casely-Hayford (sister)

Augustus Casely-Hayford, OBE (born 1964) is a British curator, cultural historian, broadcaster and lecturer with Ghanaian roots.[1] He is presently the Director of V&A East and formerly, the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 2018 for his services to Arts and Culture.[2] and Professor of Practice at SOAS in 2021. He was commissioned to present a second TV series of Tate Walks for Sky Arts in 2017 featuring David Bailey, Helena Bonham Carter, Billy Connolly, Robert Lindsay, Jeremy Paxman and Harriet Walter.[3] Casely-Hayford was awarded the Leader of the Year for Arts and Media by the Black British Business Awards 2017. He delivered a TED talk in August 2017.[4] He has been awarded a Cultural Fellowship at King's College, London, and a Fellowship at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).[5][6]

In 2010, as part of the Wonderful Africa Season,[7] he presented Lost Kingdoms of Africa, four 60-minute television programmes for BBC Two and BBC Four;[8] in 2014, the series was broadcast by the French-speaking TV channel Histoire. He was commissioned to present a second series in February 2012. He wrote the book Lost Kingdoms of Africa in 2012, published by Bantam Press. He presented a study of William Hogarth and the 18th century for the television series The Genius of British Art, on Channel 4, in 2010 and hosted The Culture Show for BBC 2 in 2012.[9] In 2016 Casely-Hayford presented the television series Tate Walks for Sky Arts. He is also the author of a book on Timbuktu, published in 2018 by Ladybird/Penguin.


Born in London, England, into a prominent Ghanaian family, Gus Casely-Hayford attended Clayesmore School in Dorset from 1978 to 1980,[10][11] and went on to gain a PhD in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University.[12][13]

He is the former Executive Director of Arts Strategy for Arts Council England.[14][15] He was previously Director of inIVA (Institute of International Visual Art),[16] a London-based arts organisation with a particular emphasis on international practice, which collaborates with partner venues throughout the UK and worldwide. Prior to this he was the Director of Africa 05, the largest African arts season ever hosted in Britain,[17] involving throughout 2005 more than 150 cultural organisations, including the BBC,[18] the aim of which Casely-Hayford said was to create "sustainable change in the way the art world – and the public – thinks about Africa. ...We don't want this just to be about one year."[19]

He also led the British Museum's diversity programme.[18] He has advised the United Nations and the Canada Council, Council for Culture of the Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils, and was commissioned to develop the future audience vision for the Tate family of galleries. In 2012 he was a Jury member of the National Open Art Competition and the National Portrait Gallery's BP Portrait Award. In 2013 he was the Chair of the Caine Prize judges. He was chair of the advisory panel for the 2015 British Library exhibition West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song and co-authored the accompanying book of the same title.[20][21]

He has presented an award-winning South Bank show on African art, produced a documentary on Chris Ofili for Channel 4 and presented several series on African culture for BBC World Service. He has presented Brit Art – Where to Now? for BBC Four.[22] He was a commissioner of arts for the Greater London Authority.

He lectures on world art at Sotheby's, Goldsmiths College and the University of Westminster, and is a consultant for organisations such as the United Nations, the Arts Council and the BBC. He is a Clore Fellow and is a Trustee of the National Trust, a member of English Heritage's Blue Plaque Group and a member of Tate's "Tate for All Board". He is a Judge for the Art Fund's "Museum of the Year" in 2016. He was formerly a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a Council Member of Tate Britain. He also sits on the Caine Prize Council[23] and is a spokesperson for the National Archives' Explore Your Archive programme. Casely-Hayford is a supporter of Sense International.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

He is the brother of fashion designer Joe Casely-Hayford, OBE (1956–2019), and of lawyer Margaret Casely-Hayford, and (as son of Victor Casely-Hayford, an accountant who trained as a barrister)[26][27] the grandson of J. E. Casely Hayford (1866–1930), the great Gold Coast thinker, writer and politician.[28] He is married and has one daughter, and as of 2018 the family lives in Washington DC.[29]


  • Co-edited with Janet Topp Fargion and Marion Wallace, West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song (accompanying British Library exhibition of the same name), British Library Publishing Division, 2015. ISBN 978-0712309899.
  • The Lost Kingdoms of Africa: Discovering Africa's hidden treasures, Transworld Publishers, 2012. ISBN 978-0593068144.
  • A genealogical history of Cape Coast stool families. PhD Thesis. London, The School of Oriental and African Studies, 1992.
  • Timbuktu. illus. Angelo Rinaldi. London: Ladybird Books. 22 March 2018. ISBN 978-0-7181-8910-5.CS1 maint: others (link)


  1. ^ "Ghana at Fifty: Leaders on the UK Arts scene – A selection of profiles of the UK’s leading figures in the arts, all Ghana-born or with Ghanaian roots" Archived 4 January 2013 at, BBC Africa Beyond website.
  2. ^ "Order of the British Empire", The Gazette, 9 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Tate Britain’s Great British Walks", Tate.
  4. ^ "The powerful stories that shaped Africa", TEDGlobal 2017.
  5. ^ Staff, Centre of African Studies, SOAS.
  6. ^ "SOAS". Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Wonderful Africa Season". BBC. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Lost Kingdoms of Africa", BBC Four.
  9. ^ "The Genius of British Art – Series 1 – Episode 2 – Art for the People". Channel 4. 10 October 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  10. ^ "GCH, an OC, goes from SOAS to DC!", Clayesmore School, 7 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Queen’s Birthday Honours for Old Clayesmorian, Gus", Clayesmore School, 18 June 2018.
  12. ^ "SOAS Radio: a conversation with Dr Gus Casely-Hayford", SOAS World Stories.
  13. ^ Augustus Casely-Hayford profile, The Guardian.
  14. ^ "50 Leading British Ghanaians"
  15. ^ "ACE appoints Arts Strategy Director", Artists' Interaction & Representation, January 2007.
  16. ^ Professor Stuart Hall, "Chairman's Statement" Archived 26 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 2005 to 2006 Institute of International Visual Arts Annual Report.
  17. ^ Busby, Margaret (10 January 2005). "Vision for change". New Statesman. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Arts Council England Makes Two Key leadership Appointments", Arts Council England, 5 December 2006.
  19. ^ Duff, Oliver (19 November 2004). "The rich art of Africa goes on show to dispel 'caricature' of a dark continent". The Independent.
  20. ^ "West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song" (press release), British Library, 15 October 2015.
  21. ^ Thembi Mutch, "From Timbuktu to Trinidad: British Library launches dazzling West Africa show", The Guardian, 16 October 2015.
  22. ^ "Brit Art – Where to Now?" (PDF). BBC FOUR Press Pack. Autumn 2009 – Winter 2010. p. 10. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  23. ^ Council Members Archived 9 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine , Caine Prize website.
  24. ^ "Dr Gus Casely-Hayford lends his support to Sense International", Sense International, 22 July 2013.
  25. ^ McGlone, Peggy (27 September 2017). "Smithsonian hires British curator and filmmaker to head African Art Museum". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Casely-Hayford, Margaret Henrietta Augusta", Who's Who 2018.
  27. ^ "Margaret Casely-Hayford" at BLD.
  28. ^ "Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, Cultural Historian: 'Kobina Sekyi and my own grandfather Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford were unafraid to be daring and innovative… their work demonstrates a complete understanding of history'", Africa Writes blog, 2015.
  29. ^ Freeman, Liam (5 April 2018). "How Gus Casely-Hayford Is Reclaiming The Art Of Africa". Retrieved 3 June 2018.

External links[edit]