The BMA has one of the earliest and most important collections of African art in the United States. Featuring more than 2,000 objects that span from ancient Egypt to contemporary Zimbabwe, the collection includes works from more than 200 African cultures in a full range of media.
The works of art are as diverse in form as they are in function and include headdresses, masks, figures, royal staffs, textiles, jewelry, ceremonial weapons, and pottery. Many pieces are distinguished by their use in royal courts, performances, and religious contexts, and several are internationally known as the best of their type.
A major gift from the collection of Janet and Alan Wurtzburger in 1954 marked the beginning of a permanent display of African art at the BMA and assured a significant place for African art within the Museum’s growing collection.
Highlights of the collection include D'mba, an unparalleled Baga female dance headdress from Guinea and Ngaady Mwash, a stunning Kuba female mask, embellished with paint, beads, and cloth, from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Recent acquisitions include a spectacular mid-20th century thirty-five foot long Kuba Man's ceremonial skirt, an elegant late-19th to early-20th century Yoruba bowl-bearing figure from Nigeria, and Theo Eshetu’s contemporary light-based video work Meditation - Light (2006).
The BMA’s African art collection has more than 85 objects, many large-scale, that address the impact of region, history, and culture on African art traditions.
Friends of the Arts of Africa, the Pacific and the Americas (FAPA)
Join FAPA to meet fellow art lovers and learn more about the BMA’s collection of art from Africa, the Ancient Americas, and the Pacific Islands.
To connect with the Department of AAAPI, please email Dr. Shannen Hill, Associate Curator for African Art and Department Head, or Talia Lieber, Curatorial Assistant, at AAAPI@artbma.org.