African Art

The BMA has one of the earliest and most important collections of African art in the United States. Now 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

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).

On View

Opening April 2015, the gallery for the BMA’s African art collection has been expanded to more than three times its former size and relocated to the center of the Museum’s first floor for the new reinstallation of the African Art Galleries. More than 85 objects, many large-scale, 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.

The D'mba is a highlight of the African collection.

Great Mother Headdress (D'mba).
Baga region, Guinea. Late 19th‑early 20th century.
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Alan Wurtzburger
BMA 1957.97