After two years of renovations, the Birmingham Museum of Art
reopened its African galleries on Saturday, April 26.
Over the past several decades, the Birmingham Museum of Art has built an exceptional collection of African art, one that beautifully reflects the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the many regions in Africa, say Gail Andrew, R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. The new geographic orientation of the gallery created by Dr. Hanna underscores the vast and distinctive art forms that have existed in Africa for thousands of years and those which are being developed today. The gallery offers visitors the opportunity to explore the collection in an entirely new way.
The renovated gallery space features many changes in the presentation of the collection. The collection is now organized geographically, grouping works from the same regions. Large maps, located throughout the gallery, will assist visitors in easily locating the origin of a particular work. The space will also be equipped with a large flat screen, designed to enhance the gallery experience by featuring supplemental media such as documentary footage of art in production and contemporary art composed digitally. In addition, the Museum has collaborated with Jefferson County teachers to develop an interactive African Proverbs project, which will reveal to visitors the relationship between proverbs and art in Africa.
Africa is a continent of enormous diversity, home to over fifty countries, and hundreds of ethnic groups, cultures, languages, religions, and traditions. Our gallery is now organized in a way that celebrates this wide-ranging, but interconnected expanse of African art across the continent, says Emily Hanna, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas. In the gallery, Ive created a very vibrant, engaging space that includes more of our collection, including textiles, clothing, jewelry, and large color photographs that show objects being used or worn. Visitors will appreciate the new design features as they trace their way through history and the magnificent art of Africa.
The African collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art comprises more than 1,600 objects from across the continent of Africa. The collection represents all major regions and artistic styles from 1500 BC forward. The works of art include masks, figure sculpture, textiles, ceramics, household and ritual objects, jewelry, musical instruments, currencies, furniture, clothing, and costume. The first part of the gallery renovation was completed in 2013 and resulted in a space for the display of the Museums impressive collection of African ceramics.