African Art and Leadership, an exhibition comprising approximately 75 objects from six cultural groups in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Zaire, will open at The Brooklyn Museum on April 15 and will remain on view through August 21, 1989. The objects, which span a period of over 500 years and are drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, illustrate the close relationship of art to political authority in West Africa. The exhibition will be on view in the Special Exhibition Gallery of the Department of African, Oceanic and New World Art, located on the first floor.
Works of African art in many forms often served to symbolize governing authority and to enhance the status or validate the role of various political communities in Africa. In these communities, a king or chief often was looked upon not only as a political head, but also as a divine spiritual leader, able to ensure the welfare of his people by his own well-being. The ruler’s power was established through the use of costume elements, often made of precious materials such as gold, coral, or ivory, and through symbols of authority, such as crowns, jewelry, thrones, and staffs of office. Whether carved or cast, these objects are often extensively detailed, elaborately ornamented, and finely crafted.
Highlights of the exhibition include a 17th-century royal portrait statue of Kuba King Mishe miShyaang maMbul from Zaire; a 16th-century bronze court hornblower from Benin, Nigeria; two late 19th- or early 20th-century royal beaded crowns from the Yoruba people of Nigeria; and a 16th-century pendant mask in the form of a leopard also from Benin, Nigeria.
African Art and Leadership was made possible, in part, with generous support from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Museum Council of The Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition was coordinated by William Siegmann, Associate Curator in the African, Oceanic and New World Art Department.
An afternoon of African arts will be offered to families with children ages eight and older on Saturday, May 6 at The Brooklyn Museum. In conjunction with the exhibition African Art and Leadership, the event will begin with a gallery visit where objects from various cultural groups of West Africa will be explored. Immediately following the exhibition tour, the Maimouna Keita School of African Dance will conduct a dance workshop in keeping with the theme of leadership. All interested should meet at the Information Desk in the Grand Lobby at 1 p.m. This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
In celebration of Mothers’ Day, a storytelling program will be offered on Sunday, May 14 at the Museum. Storytellers Laura Simms and Melissa Heckler will recount stories relating to the Mothers’ Day theme as they visit several of the Museum’s collections. Sign-language interpretation for deaf and hearing impaired visitors will be offered for this program. All interested should meet at the Information Desk in the Grand Lobby at 3 p.m. This program is made possible, in part, by funds appropriated to the Museum by the New York Legislature through the Natural Heritage Trust, a public benefit corporation established in 1968 by the Legislature and administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Additional support for this program comes from the Louis Calder Foundation, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, The Moses L. Parshelsky Foundation for the Grace Bachrach Memorial fund for Children’ s Education.
Both programs are free with Museum admission (suggested contribution: $3.00, free to members and children under 12 accompanied by an adult).
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 1989, 041.