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Stolen Legacy Confronts Colonialism, Racism Inherent in Art Collections Looted from Africa

December 06, 2022

Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director


Hannibal Lokumbe, who will lead the Stolen Legacy program at the Penn Museum
Image: Internationally recognized artist, composer, and educator Hannibal Lokumbe will lead a multi-tiered series at the Penn Museum in January.

PHILADELPHIA—In partnership with internationally recognized artist, composer, and educator Hannibal Lokumbe, the Penn Museum presents a three-part program that addresses the removal of art from the African continent, titled Stolen Legacy.

Stolen Legacy responds to how “the exchange of money for art created expressly for the spiritual maintenance of a tribe and/or nation can create a lasting physiological wound to the culture from which it was removed,” says Lokumbe. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of African art.”

A living work, Stolen Legacy is a multi-tiered experience comprised of three components: a musical experience open to the public; a conversation with the artist and curator of the Africa Galleries, open to everyone; and an in-classroom program for select Philadelphia and Camden district schools.

The program begins with Lokumbe visiting school classrooms across Philadelphia and Camden to discuss his composition and artistic process. Later, students from these schools will visit the Penn Museum to see a live musical performance on Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM.

The first public event at the Penn Museum is a conversation with the artist and curator, Friday, January 13, 2023 at 3:00 PM. This event is free and open to the Philadelphia community, alongside students from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, Curator of the Penn Museum’s Africa Galleries and the Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations in Penn’s Sociology Department, will facilitate a thoughtprovoking discussion with the artist. Registration is required.

The program culminates with a live performance inside the Sphinx Gallery on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 7:00 PM. Rooted in the idea that individual artifacts long to return to the cultures that birthed them, the powerful Stolen Legacy libretto will be sung in Yoruba, a native language in Nigeria. It is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

The performance will be recorded and installed in the Africa Galleries as an interactive audio component.

“Art speaks to the legacy of a people,” Lokumbe explains. “And those who have no regard for that legacy are no less thieves of the highest order.”

Commissioned to be a part of the Africa Galleries in 2019, Stolen Legacy is part of an in-depth reflective process about the Penn Museum’s institutional history, which is tied to colonialist and racist narratives. One of the ways in which the Museum is working to reconcile its past through restorative practices is through engaging public programs like Stolen Legacy.

The Hannibal Lokumbe Commission was supported by New Music USA. It was made possible by the annual program support and endowment gifts from The Andrew W. Mellow Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Fidelity Foundation, The Rogers & Hammerstein Foundation, and anonymous contributors.


About the Penn Museum
The Penn Museum’s mission is to be a center for inquiry and the ongoing exploration of humanity for our University of Pennsylvania, regional, national, and global communities, following ethical standards and practices.

Through conducting research, stewarding collections, creating learning opportunities, sharing stories, and creating experiences that expand access to archaeology and anthropology, the Museum builds empathy and connections across diverse cultures

The Penn Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm. It is open until 8:00 pm on first Wednesdays of the month. The Café is open Tuesday-Thursday, 9:00 am-3:00 pm and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am-3:00 pm. On Sundays, the Café is open 10:30 am-2:30 pm. For information, visit, call 215.898.4000, or follow @PennMuseum on social media.

About the Artist
Hannibal Lokumbe (né Marvin Peterson) is a classic composer and jazz trumpeter who has celebrated and commemorated the African-American experience through music and words for more than four decades. His work has been performed by symphonies and orchestras across the country. A Lifetime Inductee in the Harlem Jazz Hall of Fame, Lokumbe has received numerous fellowships and awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts.