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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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Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue Opens November 9, 2014

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 will have its first public viewing later this year 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 William H. and Camille O. Cosby Collection. The exhibition, which opens at the museum Nov. 9 and remains on view through early 2016, 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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Community Day 2014

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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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50th Anniversary Gala

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National Museum of African Art
November 7, 2014

Our signature event celebrates not only the museum’s 50th anniversary, but the opening of a very special exhibition, Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue, featuring works from the collections of the National Museum of African Art and Drs. Camille and Bill Cosby.

Guests to the gala will have the unprecedented opportunity to view Conversations and artworks from the never-before-exhibited Cosby Collection prior to its official opening.

Guests attending the 50th Anniversary Gala will include international business leaders, foreign ministers, ambassadors, thought leaders, lobbyists, philanthropists, and leaders of U.S. government agencies. Through your sponsorship of the National Museum of African Art and its 50th Anniversary Gala, these key decision makers will see your commitment to Africa.

For more information.

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Applications are being accepted for the Travel to Collections award

Johannes Segogela (South Africa) Praise in the Pulpit 1992

Johannes Segogela (South Africa)
Praise in the Pulpit

The Smithsonian Libraries invites teachers and educators to apply for a Travel to Collections award for 2015 at the Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art. The Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Award supports research visits up the three months for middle school, high school, and college teachers as well as museum educators. Applications for 2015 are due October 31, 2014.

What are the Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Awards?

The Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Awards allow mid-career educators to be in residence and utilize the Smithsonian Libraries distinctive collections, focusing on science, history, culture and arts. The awards are open to middle & high school teachers, college teachers, and museum educators working on curriculum development or publications in print or electronic form.

In 2015, recipients will be awarded a short-term residency at the Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art. They will be offered an opportunity to conduct research in the arts of Africa and related fields of African culture and history. The Library offers excellent resources for developing curricula relating to Common Core, Core Arts Standards, and Advance Placement curricula.

More information:

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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
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.

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