These African tribal objects in this gallery, are part of a significantly larger number of artifacts gathered and donated to the Museum during the 1980's. In their historic homeland, in isolated and highly or organized communities these items originally played vital roles in daily events; for example in ceremonies for celebration, initiation from childhood into adulthood, preparation for war or harvesting.
The establishment of this seminal collection came at a time of intense growth at the Museum and is considered one of the most exciting and exotic groupings within the collection as a whole.
The sculptures emphasize the human figure and their mythical functions. The creator of each piece was known as the artist. Unlike artists of the western world expressing ever-changing viewpoints, African art has an almost static quality; to change a traditional sculptural format implies mistake. Power and magic made the sculptures come alive.