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

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Redpath Museum

Redpath Museum

859 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 2K6


Tel.: 514-398-4086
Fax: 514-398-3185

Please email

redpath museum African ArtThe Redpath Museum, one of Canada's oldest free-standing museums, functions as a unique interdisciplinary unit within the Faculty of Science. As a Museum it preserves and displays large collections of ancient and modern organisms, minerals, and ethnological artefacts. As an academic unit it serves as a centre for the teaching and writing of science, as well as a research centre for the history of life and biodiversity of the planet.

The Ethnology Collections of the Redpath Museum include close to 17,000 archaeological and ethnological artifacts. Their geographic scope is global, with the exception of material relating to Canada's First Nations, now part of the McCord Museum. The Redpath holdings are an important national resource and in many cases represent some of the earliest ethnological materials held by North American museums. Archaeological and ethnological artifacts were part of Sir William Dawson's original collection at the Museum, although subordinate in number and emphasis to the natural history holdings. Additional material came to the Redpath from the Natural History Society of Montreal (1827-1926) and McGill's Ethnological Museum (see Lawson 1994, 1999).

Redpath Museum African Art


Most of the African material is from central Africa (Angola and Congo) and was collected circa the end of the nineteenth century.

It includes ancestral and spirit figures carved in wood; basketry, beadwork and personal ornaments, blacksmithing tools, carved stools and chairs, ceremonial staffs, masks, musical instruments, pottery and household artifacts, shields and weapons, textiles (approximately 2500 objects).

Mbundu ivory RedpathMbundu figurines of ivory, leather, iron; collected in Angola by Frank and Annie Read, circa 1900
photo : A. Gibbs

Kuba knives redpathAmong the extensive collections of artifacts from Africa, Oceania and South America are these African ceremonial knives. Many were made by Kuba artisans from the Congo region out of locally smelted iron.

Congo redpathMale figure with bowl from the Congo collected by McGill professor J.L. Todd, BA1898, MDCM1900, while on one of the first medical expeditions investigating sleeping sickness in central Africa. The background photo is from ethnographer Emil Torday's1925 book, On the Trail of the Bushongo.

Kongo nail figureKongo figure from Angola, made of wood, metal, glass, bone and cloth. Originally donated to the Natural History Society of Montreal in about 1860, it came to the Redpath Museum when the society disbanded in 1925. Figures of this kind were considered to be very powerful and were kept in the community to protect its members.

Five major works from this collection will be on view in Sacred Africa for a two-year period at the The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, including a nineteenth-century Nkondi power figure, or nail figure, from the Congo, into which various metal objects have been driven, see image on the right. Sacred Africa: Ancient Art from Sub-Saharan Africa – Works from the Collections of Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Redpath Museum, McGill University. 1380 Sherbrooke Street West . P.O. Box 3000, Station "H"
Montreal, Quebec.Canada H3G 2T9. info: 514-285-2000


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The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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