Visionary ideas propel the greatest human accomplishments.
Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa’s Arts, the National Museum of African Art’s most recent, large-scale presentation of its collection, is the first to offer broad thematic connections between artworks across the spectrum of time, place, and medium. Visionary aims to get visitors to look with fresh and focused insight and, in so doing, to see works of art—and each other—with new eyes.
Visionary is organized around seven viewpoints, each of which serves to frame and affect the manner in which Africa’s arts are experienced. With a room devoted to each viewpoint, the installation presents the museum’s holdings from the perspective of collectors, scholars, artists, sponsors, performers, museums—and you, the visitor.
The exhibition features over 300 works of art, organized around the central activity of looking—looking closely at issues of technique and creative expression, looking broadly at the varied lives these assembled objects have lived, and looking critically at how new contexts shift how we see artworks. From sculpture, painting, and photography to ceramics, costumes, drawing, jewelry, performance, printmaking, and video, Visionary aims to present the broadest possible range of Africa’s creative visual expressions.
Together, these perspectives offer new insights into the museum’s permanent collection, which has, for over half a century, helped to shape what the world knows and values about Africa’s arts. With regularly rotating space featuring new acquisitions, Visionary will offer a new stage on which to see Africa’s past and imagine its future.