Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Only steps away from the Smithsonian Castle and the Freer Sackler Gallery, the African Art Museum is the nation’s largest public collection of African art with nearly 700 pieces of artwork and artifacts. Collections range from ancient times to works from modern African artists, curated to present and illuminate the value and diversity of African art.
The permanent collections include ancient tribal ceremonial and daily life objects such as altars, masks, vessels, baskets, textiles, and more. Contemporary artists strive to encapsulate the powerful connection between the universe and man whilst remaining in the 21st century with social commentaries and philosophies. View the “African Cosmos: Stellar Arts” paintings that resemble cave paintings or see the development of African modernity with a collection of early photography on the Indian Ocean. Photographic archives are available online and include an extensive collection of 14,000 images of past and present Africa as seen by anthropologists, sociologists, and historians. Make sure to visit the gallery featuring the African Mosaic, a collage-like collection of artistic pieces presented as a celebration of the museum’s 50 year anniversary.
Open daily from 10-5:30 pm, the African Art Museum offers docent-led tours daily. If your group prefers more information, object highlight and themed tours are available upon request. The museum shop is open daily and sells authentic African objects from woven baskets, dashiki shirts, and scarves to messenger tote bags, iPad cases, and various books.