Opened to the public in 1984, the Museum for African Art is dedicated to the arts and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. The Museum is internationally acknowledged as a preeminent organizer of exhibitions and publications related to historical and contemporary African art, with programs that are as diverse as the continent itself.
The Museum is currently planning a new building that will enable the long-needed expansion of the Museum's exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives. Designed by the celebrated Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, the new Museum for African Art will own and occupy about 90,000 square feet in a mixed-use joint-development project. The new Museum building is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 110th Street, in New York City, where it will join Manhattan's "Museum Mile." With its expansive exhibition and programming spaces, the new facility will enable the institution to dramatically expand the audiences it serves. An announcement of the Museum's public opening date will be made during the final phase of construction.
While it prepares for the public opening of its new quarters, the Museum continues to develop important exhibitions that travel to major venues internationally and are accompanied by scholarly publications. The Museum also presents a wide range of public programs for adults, families, and schoolchildren, held at locations throughout New York City.
Museum for African Art exhibitions are widely recognized for pioneering the way African art is seen and understood, presenting insightful perspectives on the rich diversity of African art and cultures. The Museum has organized nearly 70 exhibitions that have traveled to over 143 venues in 17 countries, bringing the art and cultures of Africa to a wide array of audiences worldwide.
Current touring exhibitions organized by the Museum include Jane Alexander: Surverys (from the Cape of Good Hope), the first major North American survey of site-specific tableaux, sculptures, and photomontages by important South African artist Jane Alexander; Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, a major presentation of the extraordinary corpus of ancient Ife art in terra-cotta, stone, and metal, dating from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries; Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist, the first museum retrospective of Ibrahim El-Salahi, whose powerful paintings offer profound possibilities for understanding African modernism in the context of modernity as a universal idea; and El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa, the first career retrospective of the major contemporary artist.
Recent Museum-organized exhibitions have included The Beautiful Time: Photography by Sammy Baloji (2010), a collection of powerful photomontages that highlight the mingling of past and present in contemporary Congo; Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art (2010), Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermes Collection (2008), Design: Made in Africa (2007), Art of the Lega: Meaning and Metaphor in Central Africa (2007), At Arm's Length: The Art of African Puppetry (2006), and Personal Affects: Power and Poetics in Contemporary South African Art (2005), among many others.
Education and Public Programs
With its deep commitment to increasing awareness, understanding, and appreciation of African art and culture, the Museum for African Art's Education Department is dedicated to serving the diversity of learning styles and interests of the thousands of people it reaches every year. School programs include hands-on workshops, free interdisciplinary teachers' guides, and a program that brings artists into public schools to lead workshops on African art and culture.
Public programs include symposia, lectures, film series, and other avenues for exploring the art, artists, cultures, history, and current affairs of Africa.