African royalty
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Video

Behind the scenes of the royal court of Benin

The secret ceremonies and intimate details of an ancient African empire are revealed in an exhibition of rare photographs in Washington.

Chief Alonge was the official photographer of the royal court of Benin, now part of Nigeria. Beginning in 1933 and for more than half a century, he held an insider's view of palace life and Nigeria's transition from colonial rule to independence.

His work helped establish photography as a new African art form.

The photos will be on exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art until 13 September 2015.

Jane O'Brien reports.

Filmed by Maxine Collins. Edited by Bill McKenna

Go to next video: Sandro Miller: Value over viral