- Connect with Africa’s great kingdoms and rich material culture through around 300 objects on display.
- Trace objects’ stories from their maker to the Museum: learn who made the objects, what they were used for, and how they came to be in the Museum’s collection.
- See contemporary African artists’ reactions to the objects on display through four new commissioned art pieces.
The new Africa Galleries celebrate the richness and diversity of Africa’s artistic creativity, moral and spiritual practices, family and gender relations, languages, and organization of social, economic, and political systems. They explore the histories and connections of African material culture as a way to better understand our shared world. Organized by themes—including design, exchange, spirituality—the Galleries invite visitors to consider why, where, and how objects were made; how they were used in daily life, on special occasions, or in religious ceremonies; and why this object was meaningful to the culture that produced it.
The new Africa Galleries draw from information gathered through the previous Imagine Africa exhibition. They are designed to deepen the conversation about African material culture, its representation in Western museums, and its connection to the African Diaspora.
The objects on display—from 21 countries on the African continent—are from the Penn Museum’s Africa collection. As with most Western museums, the foundational objects of this collection were created in or taken out of Africa during periods of enslavement and colonialism. Most of the Penn Museum’s Africa collections were acquired by curators, ethnologists, archaeologists, antiquarians, or travelers in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.