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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Dance vestment with four Eshu staff figures, 20th century, Nigeria ; Yoruba
Wood, cowry shells, leather; h. 21 x w. 9 in.
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Bernard M. Wagner, 2006

June 18, 2007 Lorraine McConnell, 973-596-6638 Lmcconnell 

Announcement and Lecture Celebrates Gift of Bernard and Patricia Wagner on Sunday, June 24, 2007

Newark, NJ – The Newark Museum is pleased to announce a major gift of thirty outstanding African art works, the majority of which are Yoruba sculpture, from New Jersey collectors Dr. Bernard and Patricia Wagner.

Longtime supporters of the Museum, the Wagners will be honored at a reception on Sunday, June 24, 2007, where the announcement will be formally made by Mary Sue Sweeney Price, Director of The Newark Museum. At 3:00pm, preceding the reception, Dr. Wagner and Dr. Christa Clarke, the Museum’s Curator of Africa, the Americas and the Pacific, will together present a public dialogue entitled Art of the Yoruba: Collector and Curator in Conversation.

“We are deeply indebted to the Wagners for their generosity and continuing support,” said Ms. Price. “This significant gift establishes The Newark Museum as one of the nation’s leading repositories of Yoruba art, building upon our own impressive collection begun in 1924.”
The Wagners began collecting African art in 1969, assembling an extensive collection of over a hundred objects in nearly four decades. Their primary focus is the tradition-based art of the Yoruba, celebrated for their rich artistic heritage spanning a thousand years.

One of Africa’s largest ethnic groups, the Yoruba today number over 20 million people living primarily in Nigeria, but also in the neighboring countries of the Republic of Benin and Togo. The Wagners were especially drawn to Yoruba art because of its combination of artistic skill and creativity with the embodiment of culturally meaningful ideas.
Dr. Clarke shares the interest of the collectors, commenting, “These works offer tremendous insight into the core beliefs of this diverse culture, united by religious beliefs, language and a common tradition of origin.”

To celebrate the Wagner’s gift, The Newark Museum has co-organized an exhibition with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, also the recipient of a promised gift from the couple. 

The exhibition, Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art: Featuring the Bernard and Patricia Wagner Collection, presenting approximately 70 works of art in diverse media, will be on view at the High from December 22, 2007 through April 20, 2008 and at The Newark Museum from June 6 until August 24, 2008. 

Dr. Clarke and Carol Thompson, Richman Family Foundation Curator of African Art at the High Museum of Art, are the co-curators. The catalogue essay is authored by Dr. Babatunde Lawal, a professor of art history at Virginia Commonwealth University and a specialist in Yoruba art and culture.

In advance of the exhibition, The Newark Museum’s permanent gallery of African art features a display of Yoruba art donated in 2006 by the Wagners as part of the larger pledged gift.

ABOUT THE NEWARK MUSEUM The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street in the Downtown/Arts District of Newark, New Jersey, just 3 blocks from NJPAC and 10 miles west of New York City. 

The Museum is open all year round: Wednesdays through Fridays, from Noon - 5:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., October 1 – June 30; and Saturdays and Sundays, from Noon – 5:00 p.m., July 1 – September 30. Suggested Museum admission: Adults, $7.00; Children, Seniors and Students with valid I.D., $3.00. Members are admitted free. 

The Museum Café is open for lunches Wednesday through Sunday. Convenient parking is available for a fee. For general information, call 973-596-6550 or visit our web site, . The Newark Museum, a not-for-profit museum of art, science and education, receives operating support from the City of Newark; the State of New Jersey; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the New Jersey Cultural Trust; and corporate, foundation and individual donors. Funds for acquisitions and activities other than operations are provided by members and other contributors.

The Newark Museum is just a few steps from the new NJTransit Light Rail Washington Park Station. Direct connection with the Light Rail at the Broad Street Station and through Penn Station makes the Museum a convenient ride from all points in the region.

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