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North America : Museum for African Art

Mission Statement
The Museum for African Art is the center for discovering the arts of Africa, from classic to contemporary. -We collect, preserve and exhibit art that is as dynamic and diverse as the continent of Africa. -We cultivate an appreciation for Africa's historical and current impact on world culture. -We inspire respect for Africa and its people by building awareness and understanding of the arts, history, and heritage of Africa. -We bring diverse communities together and create opportunities for dialogue and experiential and interactive learning. Since its founding in 1984, the Museum has brought new awareness to millions of visitors in New York and around the world. The Museum has produced over 50 widely-acclaimed exhibitions and catalogues exploring aspects of Africa's rich artistic traditional and cultural heritage. Since its inception, the Museum's exhibitions have traveled to well over 100 national and international museums, giving them greater access to high quality African shows. Well over 4 million visitors outside New York City have seen exhibitions organized by the Museum for African Art.

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HeadQuarters: 36-01 43rd Avenue Long Island City, NY 11101
Organization Contacts
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Museum for African Art

Organization Details

Opened to the public in 1984, the Museum for African Art is dedicated to the arts and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Since that time, it has become internationally recognized as a preeminent source for exhibitions and publications related to historical and contemporary African art, with programs that are as diverse as the continent itself.

The Museum was located in a rented townhouse on New York City's Upper East Side from 1984 until 1992, when it moved to rented space in the City's SoHo district. In 2005, the Museum moved to Long Island City, Queens, as it developed plans for a new, larger facility that it would own. In September 2007, ground was broken for a new building that will enable the long-needed expansion of the Museum's exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives.

Designed by the celebrated Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the new Museum for African Art will be located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 110th Street, in New York City. It will be the first addition to Manhattan's storied Museum Mile since the 1959 opening of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The Museum for African Art will own and occupy about 100,000 square feet in a mixed-use joint-development project. With its expansive exhibition and programming spaces, the new facility will enable the institution to dramatically expand the audiences it serves, providing a powerful link between the diverse cultural communities of New York City and beyond.

While it prepares for the public opening of its new quarters in early 2011, the Museum continues to develop important exhibitions that travel to major venues internationally and are accompanied by scholarly publications. It also presents a wide range of public programs for adults, families, and school children, held at locations throughout New York City.


Museum for African Art exhibitions are widely recognized for presenting new perspectives on familiar areas of African art, as well as for introducing subjects and artists that are less well-known. Since its opening, the Museum has organized 56 exhibitions that have traveled to 167 venues in the United States and abroad, bringing the art and cultures of Africa to a wide array of audiences.

Current and upcoming touring exhibitions organized by the Museum include El Anatsui: When Last I Wrote to You About Africa, the first career retrospective of this major contemporary artist, and Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art, which uses basketry as a lens through which to view the African contribution to the building of America. These will be among the inaugural exhibitions in the Museum's new building. Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria is devoted to the extraordinary art of Ife, the ancient city-state of the Yoruba people of West Africa (in present-day southwestern Nigeria). It concludes its European and U.S. tour at the Museum for African Art in late 2011.

Recent Museum-organized exhibitions have ranged from Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermes Collection (2008), to At Arm's Length: The Art of African Puppetry (2006), Lasting Foundations: The Art of African Architecture (2005), Resonance from the Past: African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art (2005), and Daufuskie Island: Photographs by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe (2003-05), among many others.

Education and Public Programs

With its deep commitment to educational outreach, the Museum for African Art is dedicated to serving the diversity of learning styles and interests of the thousands of schoolchildren it reaches every year. School programs include hands-on workshops at the Museum that use its teaching collection; free interdisciplinary teachers' guides; and a program that takes artists into public schools to lead workshops on African art and culture, among other initiatives.

Public programs include symposia, lectures, film series, and other avenues for exploring the art, artists, cultures, history, and current affairs of Africa.

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