There are an estimated 22,000 objects, from Africa in our collection. It covers the whole of the continent, with virtually every modern African state represented.
The collection encompasses aspects of many different lifestyles, from hunter-gathering and farming to town and city life. The collections contain objects of outstanding quality including important historical and archaeological material from Egypt, Benin and Ethiopia, collected early in the Museum's history.
Other exceptional pieces include two Afo figures donated by Ruxton in 1931; an Ibibio figure with suspended sword, groups of African masks from Yoruba and the Dogon of Mali and collections of contemporary pottery. Noteworthy pieces of contemporary African art include life-size cement sculptures by Sunday Jack Akpan, paintings by Osi Audu and metal sculpture by Sokari Douglas Camp.
Material culture of African peoples
From the 1950s onwards, we developed the collection by focusing on the material culture of specific African peoples. Important museum holdings include systematic collections from the Sua of Zaire, the Hadza of Tanzania, the San of Botswana, the Tuareg of Algeria, the Samburu of Kenya and the people of the Cross-River area of Nigeria.
All collections were the product of in-depth field research with more recent collections including video footage and photographic documentation.
More recent collections
In recent years, we have concentrated on the development of collections to illustrate contemporary masquerade from countries that are not well represented in other national and local museums.
These collections include material from the Dogon of Mali; the Bundouku region of Cote d' Ivoire and an Ijele from Nigeria. Fieldworkers are encouraged to commission new works by acknowledged makers rather than remove existing works from circulation.