A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Horniman Museum UK
Celebrating Africa 05's rich and diverse cultural heritage at Horniman UK
020 8699 1872
15/2/2005 .The gallery was opened in 1999 as the first permanent exhibition dedicated to African cultures and identities. It contains a rich collection of world-class artefacts that were acquired by the Horniman museum in the past 100 years.
The exhibition allows your guests to enjoy Egyptian items on display which Frederick Horniman acquired following his inspiration by, Howard Carter, the Victorian discoverer of Tutankhamen's tomb. The gallery also showcases Nkanu masks from Congo, one of the finest examples of very rare artefacts once used by secret societies and the Benin plaques, considered some of the best examples of the artistic marvels from Benin. The Nigerian Igbo ijele - the largest mask in Africa and only one of its kind in Britain - adds to the array of visual splendour in the gallery.
The African collections, an estimated 22,000 objects, represent 28% of the total ethnography collection. The geographical range of the collection is wide, covering the whole of the continent, with virtually every modern African state represented, stretching from the northern deserts to the Cape of Good Hope and from the Guinea Coast to the Horn of Africa. The variety of material is considerable and encompasses aspects of many different lifestyles, from hunter-gathering and farming to town and city life.
From the 1950's, development of the collection focused on representing the material culture of specific African peoples. Significant museum holdings include systematic collections from the Sua of Zaire, the Hadza of Tanzania, the San of Botswana, the Tuareg of Algeria, the Samburu of Kenya and the people of the Cross-River area of Nigeria. All collections were the product of in-depth field research with more recent collections including video footage and photographic documentation.
The collections contain objects of outstanding quality including important historical and archaeological material from Egypt, Benin and Ethiopia, collected early in the Museum's history. Other exceptional pieces include two Afo figures donated by Ruxton in 1931; an Ibibio figure with suspended sword, groups of African masks from Yoruba and the Dogon of Mali and collections of contemporary pottery. Noteworthy pieces of contemporary African art include life-size cement sculptures by Sunday Jack Akpan, paintings by Osi Audu and metal sculpture by Sokari Douglas Camp.
In the last six years collecting has concentrated on the development of collections to illustrate contemporary masquerade from countries that are not well represented in other national and local museums. These collections include material from the Dogon of Mali; the Bundouku region of Cote d' Ivoire and an Ijele from Nigeria. Fieldworkers are encouraged to commission new works by acknowledged makers rather than remove existing works from circulation.
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Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart
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