Founded in 1964, and part of the Smithsonian since 1979, the National Museum of African Art moved to the Mall in 1987 to share a subterranean space with the Sackler Gallery and the Ripley Center. Its aboveground domed pavilions reflect the arch motif of the neighboring Freer Gallery of Art .
The museum collects and exhibits ancient and contemporary art from the entire African continent and rotates displays of its 9,100-piece permanent collection. The museum's contemporary African art collection comprises the largest public holding in the United States. Among the museum's holdings are the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, encompassing 80,000 photographic prints and transparencies and 120,000 feet of film on African arts and culture. A small, ongoing permanent exhibit of ceramic arts displays 14 traditional and contemporary pieces from the museum's 140-works collection. Most exciting is the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art collection, which the Walt Disney World Company donated to the museum in 2005. Its Tishman collection of 525 objects represents every area of Africa, dating from ancient to contemporary times and spanning art forms from textiles to jewelry. A rotating selection of at least 60 works are permanently on display in the museum.
Inquire at the desk about special exhibits, workshops (including excellent children's programs), storytelling, lectures, docent-led tours, films, and demonstrations. A comprehensive events schedule provides a unique opportunity to learn about the diverse cultures and visual traditions of Africa. Plan on spending a minimum of 30 minutes here.
- © Frommer's 2013
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