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50 Years of African Art in the Capital.
The piece that started it all.

Edo artist, Nigeria Shrine figure (ikegobo)

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.