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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Gallery 350

The MET : Gallery 350 : Main Africa Gallery

Art From Us, Museum Guide #580

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide #580 the spotlight is on the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET) NY’s Gallery 350. Showcasing a collection of Main Africa Gallery.

The three works in focus are :

  1. Female Figure with Raised Arm, from 15th  – 17th century.
  2. Mask : Cow (Mishi), from 19th – 20th century.
  3. Mask : Hyena, 19th – 20th century.

The significance of the 3 works chosen for Art From Us, Museum Guide #580

Welcome to the Art From Us, Museum Guide #580.

After having travelled around the globe through the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of artefacts originating from Ancient Egypt, India and Southeast Asian and Europe, we finally arrive in Africa – welcome!

This large gallery houses works related to Mande cultures that extend across present-day Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire.

As depicted above, 2 of the 3 objects chosen for today are African masks, dating around the 20th century. Thus, we would like to start our journey into the Dark Continent by briefly discussing this key piece of culture and ceremony – the African mask.

Exploring the African Mask

Historians largely agree that the first masks originating from Africa pre-date the Paleolithic era. These masks took various forms including those of animals, supernatural beings, mythological heroes as well as people. In particular, the masks depicting animals were believed to encapsulate the essence of that particular animal species. It was further believed that the person who wore that mask would become a medium, and have the ability to communicate with the animals of that species. This rendered the masks mystical, ritualistic and powerful.

Crocodiles, hawks, antelopes and many other animals are a regular feature on African masks – with each creature having its own unique symbolism.

To further explore the Dark Continent, we encourage you to check out tomorrow’s Art From Us, Museum Guide.


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