The African art collection ranks among the nation’s earliest and most comprehensive, representing the breadth and diversity of artistic creativity throughout the continent and around the globe.

With its historical and ongoing commitment to living artists, the Museum is a leader in showcasing contemporary art of the African diaspora. The collection comprises nearly 4,000 objects of ritual, ceremonial, and daily use, such as masks, sculpture, textiles, pottery, jewelry, furniture, photography, and painting.  The works range from historic artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries to contemporary examples by artists living and working internationally. The collection dates to 1917, when the Museum made its first acquisition, and is continental in scope.

Unrecorded Yoruba artist, Man with Bicycle, mid‑20th century​. Kano, Nigeria​. Wood, pigment, metal, 36 x 12 x 10 in. (91.4 × 30.5 × 25.4 cm)​. Purchase 1977 Wallace M. Scudder Bequest Fund and The Members' Fund | 77.285A,B​

Unrecorded artist, Zulu Apron, 1880. South Africa​. Glass beads, thread, 5 x 12 in. (12.7 x 30.5 cm). Gift of Berthold Audsley, 1917 | 17.479​

El Anatsui, Many Came Back, 2005​. Aluminum and copper wire, 84 × 115 × 8 in. (213.4 × 292.1 × 20.3 cm)​. Purchase 2005 The Members' Fund | 2005.34​ © El Anatsui

Unrecorded artist, Blanket, 1982​. Mali​. Cotton, 102 1/2 x 55 1/4 in. (260.4 x 140.3 cm). Purchase The Members' Fund, 1983 | 83.105​


Related Exhibitions and Galleries