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Cherise Smith, Ph.D, Director JES A232A, Mailcode D7200, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1784

More Information about the African Art Collection

The recently acquired African Art collection from the Texas Memorial Museum (TMM) is comprised of 827 artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa. The art is currently housed within the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies (WCAAAS) suites in Jester.

An inventory of the art pieces was begun in early October. This process is being overseen by Black Studies-affiliated faculty member Michael Ray Charles, a UT Austin professor and celebrated artist who is housed in the Art and Art History Department. Artifacts amongst the 827 pieces include dance performance costumes, clothing, tools, weapons, masks, instruments, household items, jewelry, and pottery. Cloths, religious figures, masks, and small household items from the West African coast make up a large part of the collection, from ethnic groups such as the Yoruba from present-day Nigeria, the Ashanti from Ghana, the Bamoun from Cameroon, and the Kisii from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ndebele dolls from South Africa as well as decorative armbands, legbands, and aprons from the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert are also a significant portion of the art. From East Africa, many ethnic groups from Kenya, including the Akamba, Chagga, and Turkana, are represented by household items and beaded bracelets and belts. Also present is a large collection of highly detailed crosses made from precious metal and found in Ethiopia. From the Central African region, the largest portion of art is from the Bakuba people of modern day Congo. From this group comes a wide array of mats, knives, weapons, household items, and instruments.

These diverse items from more than 40 ethnic groups across the African continent have the potential to connect our academic community to the lives of populations thousands of miles and hundreds of years away. More information coming soon!

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