African Tribal Art Auction

The National Museum of African Art is the Smithsonian Institution’s African art museum, located on the National Mall of the United States capital. Its collections include 9,000 works of traditional and contemporary African art from both Sub-Saharan and Arab North Africa, 300,000 photographs, and 50,000 library volumes. It was the first institution dedicated to African art in the United States, and remains the largest collection. The Washington Post called the museum a mainstay in the international art world and the main venue for contemporary African art in the United States.
The museum was founded in 1964 by a Foreign Service officer and layman who bought African art objects in Germany and multiple houses in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in which to display them. The collection focused on traditional African art and an educational mission towards black cultural heritage. To ensure the museum’s longevity, the founder lobbied Congress to adopt the museum under the Smithsonian’s auspices. It joined the Smithsonian in 1979 and became the National Museum of African Art two years later. A new, mostly underground museum building was completed in 1987 just off the National Mall and adjacent to other Smithsonian museums. It is among the Smithsonian’s smallest museums.
The African art museum took a scholarly direction over the next twenty years, with less social programming. It collected traditional and contemporary works of historical importance. Exhibitions include works both internal and borrowed, and have ranged from solo artist to broad, survey shows. The museum hosts two to three temporary exhibitions and ten special events annually. Reviewers criticized the National Mall building’s architecture, particularly its lack of natural light. The museum is slated to be remodeled as part of the Smithsonian’s upcoming South Mall project.

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