African Art

Permanent Installation

The BMA's presentation of its renowned African art collection emphasizes the relationships between 85 incredible works, many large-scale, and the lives of the people by and for whom the objects were made. Artists and diverse traditions from more than 40 African empires, kingdoms, and regions are represented.

Discover how African art was shaped by political, social, and cultural changes affecting the continent in the late 20th century, explore different types of training African artists undertake, and learn how patronage impacts art intended for public and private use.

Exhibition Highlights

  • Commemorative Head of a King (1848-97) from the Benin Empire in Nigeria
  • Sande Society Helmet Mask (20th century) created by the Nguabu Master in Sierra Leone
  • Asymmetrical Betu I (2010) by Magdalene Odundo
  • more than 600 tiny Gold-Dust Weights (1700-1900) created by unidentified artists from the Akan region of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire
  • the Great Mother Headdress (D’mba) from the Baga region of Guinea
  • Yoruba masks from Nigeria
  • Kuba and Pende masks from the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Married Woman’s Ceremonial Aprons from the Ndebele region of South Africa

African Art

The BMA has one of the most important collections of African art on the East Coast, including 2,100 objects from ancient Egypt to contemporary Zimbabwe. Several objects, such as the majestic Great Mother Headdress (D'mba) from the Baga region of Guinea, are considered the best of their kind.

A visitor examining an African mask.

Royal Man's Mask (Mukenga). 1970s. Kuba kingdom, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Friends of the Arts of Africa, the Pacific and the Americas, and Amy Gould and Matthew Polk, Gibson Island, Maryland, BMA 2013.363