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National Museum of African Art Statement Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue

The National Museum of African Art’s mission is to inspire conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of African arts and cultures. We began planning for the Conversations exhibition two years ago to help showcase the history of American art created by persons of African descent. It brings the public’s attention to artists whose works have long been omitted from the study of American art history. We are aware of the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, who, along with his wife Camille, owns many of the works in the Conversations exhibition. Exhibiting this important collection does not imply any position on the serious allegations that have been made against Mr. Cosby. The exhibition is centrally about the artworks and the artists who created them.

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Limited tickets for the 50th Gala After Party now available!

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

National Museum of African Art Announces 50th Anniversary After Party Featuring Grammy-Nominated Artist Sheila E.

Limited Tickets on Sale

The National Museum of African Art will host an after party on Friday, Nov. 7, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. celebrating not only its 50th anniversary, but the opening of an exclusive exhibition. Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue will feature works from the collections of the National Museum of African Art and Drs. Camille O. and William H. Cosby Jr.

Guests to the after party will have the unprecedented opportunity to view Conversations and artworks from the never-before-exhibited Cosby collection prior to its official opening. Grammy-nominated artist Sheila E. will perform with special guests.

The evening includes open bar, late night snacks, and desserts. Participants must be 21 to be admitted (IDs will be checked at the door).

After Party Only ticket (10 PM – 1 AM)
Ticket sales have ended.

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Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue is open!

Kepi in Bree Street

Nontsikelelo “Lolo” Veleko
born 1977, South Africa
Kepi in Bree Street
From the Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder series
Digital print with pigment dyes on cotton paper
42 x 29 cm (16 9/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, purchased with funds provided by the Annie Laurie Aitken Endowment, 2011-7-1.4
Photograph by Franko Khoury

One of the world’s preeminent private collections of African American art has its first public viewing currently at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue brings together artworks from two world-class collections: the National Museum of African Art and the Camille O. and William H. Cosby Jr. Collection. The exhibition remains on view through early 2016, and is a major part of the museum’s 50th anniversary, celebrating its unique history and contributions toward furthering meaningful dialogue between Africa and the African diaspora.

Conversations presents selected pieces from the Cosby collection, including works by Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Beauford Delaney, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Keith Morrison, Faith Ringgold, Augusta Savage, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Alma Thomas. With the exception of one work of art, the Cosby collection has never been loaned or seen publicly and only rarely and selectively published. These and other works of African American art are placed in thematic dialogue with African traditional works of art, including a Kongo female figure with child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a lidded bowl from Nigeria by the Yoruba master artist Olowe of Ise, and a Nuna butterfly mask from Burkina Faso, and with modern and contemporary works of art by artists, including Fodé Camara from Senegal, Godfried Donkor from Ghana, and William Kentridge from South Africa. The exhibition and its accompanying publication are organized to explore intersecting ideas about history, creativity, power, identity, and artistry in ways that resonate with people the world over.

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New Exhibit: Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria

Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, NigeriaChief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria opened Sept 17. This major exhibition showcases the photographs of Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994), one of Nigeria’s premier photographers and the first official photographer to the Royal Court of Benin. Alonge’s historic photographs document the rituals, pageantry and regalia of the court for more than a half-century and provide rare insight into the early history and practice of studio photography in West Africa.

Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994) is one of Nigeria’s premiere photographers and the first official photographer of the royal court of Benin, Nigeria. His work spans half-century and presents a dynamic continuous record of the reigns of Oba Akenzua II (1933–78) and Oba Erediauwa (1979–present) and the political and social events surrounding the royal palace. For five decades, Alonge photographed the royal wives and children, visiting dignitaries and politicians, and annual festivals and court ceremonies from a unique insider’s perspective.

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QADAR the Opera


The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland presents the new Opera QADAR. Composed by award-winning composer, playwright, and pianist Tony Small and commissioned by the National Museum of African Art, QADAR introduces western audiences to the music and culture of Oman through a seamless exchange of African and Arabic music genres. With Denyce Graves serving as Artist Consultant, Qadar: An Operetta for Children uses the vernacular of opera for a cultural exchange between Oman and Zanzibar.

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Community Day 2014

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  • Community-Day-01-519

Community Day 2014, celebrated on August 9th, brought over 1,500 visitors to the Museum. This event included live performances, lectures and art workshops, as well as face and henna-painting.

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Smithsonian Summer Showdown

Summer Showdown

It’s a Summer Showdown! We’re in a friendly competition with the other art museums in the Smithsonian Institution. Vote for Yinka Shonibare, MBE and African Art so we can win.

Voting closes on Monday, August 4.

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