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Burning Desire To Be Touched

On July 18th Mwangi Hutter premiered Burning Desire To Be Touched, a work commissioned by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. This performance art piece by Mwangi Hutter, an artist collective featured in the exhibition The Divine Comedy, examines our profound desire for harmonious relationships.

It was presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists.

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Smithsonian Summer Showdown

SMITHSONIAN SUMMER SHOWDOWNIt happens every single day at the Smithsonian. Eyes are opened. Jaws are dropped. Flabbers are gasted.

Seriously amazing items, experiences, and knowledge abound at the Smithsonian. So for the 2015 Smithsonian Summer Showdown, we’re asking you to help pick the MOST SERIOUSLY AMAZING thing at the Smithsonian.

Our museums, research and cultural centers, and zoo have picked one item each as its champion. They will battle through three rounds until there is ONE winner! Who will emerge victorious? That’s up to you. Voting for Round One ends August 12.

Vote now!

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NMAfA Director Johnnetta B. Cole on “Why I Kept Open an Exhibit Featuring Art Owned by Bill Cosby.”

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

NMAfA Director Cole wrote a piece for the online publication The Root which we share for our visitors. Although personally devastated by the collapse of the comedian’s public persona, the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art says that even in times of controversy, art must be allowed to speak for itself.

Her entire piece is available here.

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

The National Museum of African Art is aware of the recent revelations about Bill Cosby’s behavior. The museum in no way condones this behavior. Our current “Conversations” exhibition, which includes works of African art from our permanent collection and African American art from the collection of Camille and Bill Cosby, is fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not the owners of the collections.

The artworks from the Cosbys’ collection are being seen by the public for the first time. The exhibition brings the public’s attention to African American artists whose works have long been omitted from the study and appreciation of American art.

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Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Addresses Prestigious Mandela Fellows

Mandela FellowsThe University of Virginia kicked off the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a signature program of the Obama administration, on Monday, June 22. Twenty-five young emerging leaders from Africa, selected by the Department of State, were welcomed to the luncheon ceremony at the university. The event was part of the Young African Leaders Initiative program (YALI), now in its second summer.

National Museum of African Art Director Johnnetta Betsch Cole was the keynote speaker for the program. Dr. Cole quoted Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, telling the fellows that “the size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you they are not big enough”. Dr. Cole also congratulated the accomplished men and women for being selected. “Many, many applied,” she said. “You are among the chosen. Africa’s youth is its strength and the possibilities are endless”.

President Obama named the young leaders “Mandela Fellows” to honor the life and work of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela. More than 30,000 women and men, aged 25 to 35, applied to become part of the 2015 fellowship class. Only 500 people were chosen. The Mandela Fellows will study business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management this summer at colleges and universities across the United States.

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Wade King Hosts Smithsonian Curator as Part of World Tour Africa

Stokes at Wade KingIn early May 2015, Deborah Stokes, curator of education at the National Museum of African Art (part of the Smithsonian Institution) in Washington D.C., was onsite at Wade King Elementary teaching about the art of Africa and hosting art workshops with all grades.

Her visit was part of a comprehensive schedule of activities around World Tour Africa, an annual celebration of a different region of the world.

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See the artwork!

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Museum Celebrates Former Volunteer on Her 100th Birthday!

Mrs. Lillian Pharr

On Thursday, June 4, National Museum of African Art and Smithsonian Library staff gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mrs. Lillian Pharr for her 35 years of service to the Smithsonian’s Warren M. Robbins Library. Pharr was joined by friends and family including her son Kofi Ofori and grandson Brian Pharr. Glowing tributes were given by museum director Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Warren M. Robbins librarian Janet L. Stanley.

The Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art was founded in 1971 and is the major resource center in the United States for the research and study of the visual arts of Africa.

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