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50 Years of African Art in the CapitalThe piece that started it all
June 3, 2014
Edo artist, Nigeria Shrine figure (ikegobo) Early to mid‑20th century Wood 36.2 x 24.5 x 22 cm (14 1/4 x 9 5/8 x 8 11/16 in.) Gift of Harold Rome, 63‑1‑1
The first object in the museum’s collection was an ikegobo, or “shrine of the hand,” which honors the hard-earned accomplishments of a lifetime. With the gift of this ikegobo, founding director Warren M. Robbins launched a museum—our museum—that is now home to more than 12,000 artworks. Carved in relief along the cylindrical form of this ikegobo are a warrior, attendants, and a symbolic hand gathering up wealth that is shown palm out, fingers folded down, and thumb extended. Its carved base is now missing.