50 In 50: Where To View Black And African Art Across The Country
By Kelsey Marie
Art is important because it documents time, history, people, and places through the eye of the artists. Black and African art has been hidden from us for years but it is now finally being put to the forefront. Artists from the diaspora are getting recognition for their contributions to the art world now more than ever before.
If you’re curious about finding Black or African art in the U.S., we’ve rounded up 50!
Located in Birmingham, the museum of art has an entire collection of African art.
Located in Little Rock, Mosaic Templars is a museum of African American history. The museum has permanent and changing exhibits. For example, the exhibit entitled “Creativity Arkansas” features works from black artists with roots in Arkansas.
The Heard Museum is located in Phoenix and focuses on preserving American Indian art. The museum also has African art in its collection such as African masks.
This Berkley museum has an African collection formed by two African scholars: anthropologist William Buscorn (1957 – 1979) and archaeologist J. Desmond Clark (1961 – 1986).
The African art collection in Denver consists of about 1,000 objects. There is art ranging from older works to contemporary pieces.
The African art collection at Yale has almost 2,000 objects spanning 3,000 years of African history. Their highlight pieces are masks and ritual pieces from West and Central Africa.
Visit this museum between October 19 and January 26, 2020, for the exhibit Posing Beauty In African American Culture. The exhibit is curated by Deborah Willis, Ph.D., and “explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture such as music and the internet.”
This art museum in Miami has an Art of Africa collection as well as an Art of the Caribbean collection.
Located in Atlanta, this museum has one of the most extensive collections in the region. Here you can find artwork from ancient Egypt and the African diaspora.
Visit the Doris Duke Theater at this museum for films of African art and artists. For example, there was a screening of Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba earlier this year.
Visit this museum in Boise, Idaho, located in the historic St. Paul Baptist Church building. The purpose of the museum is to “build bridges between cultures to explore issues that affect Americans of all cultures and ethnicities.”
Located in Chicago, the DuSable Museum’s mission is to “promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs and activities that illustrate African and African American history, culture, and art.”
Mathers Museum of World Cultures is located on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The museum houses almost 5,000 pieces from all regions of the African continent.
Visit this museum for a view of sculptures, textiles, masks, ceramics, beadwork, and metalwork by African artists.
Visit the Imperato West African Gallery to view West African sculptures and figurines.
E & S Gallery was established in 1989 in Louisville, Kentucky. According to their bio, they are “one of the oldest, largest, most reputable African American fine art galleries in the world.”
This gallery is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans and focuses on art that reflects on the African American experience.
The purpose of Indigo Arts Alliance is to “cultivate the artistic development of people of African descent.” There are always events featuring resident artists discussing their work.
This museum is the first of its kind in the Maple Lawn neighborhood of Fulton, Maryland. The museum’s mission statement is to “serve the public, the African Art Museum of Maryland, through an exploration of the art of Africa to encourage a broader understanding and awareness of the diverse cultures and artistic expressions of the people of the African continent.”
This Cambridge, Massachusetts gallery opened in 2014 and “features contemporary and historical exhibitions and installations of African and African American art.”
The Black Arts and Cultural Center is located in Kalamazoo and “showcases the artwork of different local, regional, national, and international artists each month in the Gail Sydnor Gallery.”
This nonprofit organization was founded in Minneapolis in 2018. The purpose of the museum is to “preserve, record, and highlight the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans in Minnesota.”
This museum is located in Kansas City and has an African art collection with 366 works.
If you’re in Jackson, Mississippi between October 10 through January 5, 2020, head to this museum for The Prize: Seven Decades of Lyrical Response to the Call for Civil Rights exhibit.
This store has African art with items for sale such as bags, leather goods, wooden curios, tableware…etc. African Oasis is located in Dillon, Montana.
The mission of MAMA is “to share the hidden beauty and rich history of Africa’s art and culture.” Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, MAMA aims to “promote awareness, an understanding, and appreciation of African immigrants within the Midwestern population.”
Hood Museum of Art is located on the campus of Dartmouth. Their African art collection contains almost 2,000 objects from all regions of the African continent.
Located in Tenafly, New Jersey, this museum is one of only a few museums in the U.S. dedicated to the arts of Africa.
Nestled in the heart of Santa Fe, Casanova Art Gallery has African tribal art. There are items such as beaded dolls from Cameroon, beaded animals from South Africa and wood colonial figures from the Ivory Coast.
This nonprofit gallery has a permanent collection of African art. The Museum of African Art in Left of Center Art Gallery is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Brooklyn Museum is always highlighting black artists. Head there from now until October 13 to see One by Titus Kaphar.
The African Collection reinstallation at the North Carolina Museum of Art was opened in June 2017. This new, expanded African art gallery has African art spanning 16 centuries. The museum is located in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The permanent collection at this museum houses African art such as African ceramics.
The African art collection has been in existence at Cincinnati Art Museum since 1889 The museum has been collecting African art for over a century and continues to expand its collection.
The OSU Museum of Art at Oklahoma State University has direct connections with Ethiopia and showcases Ethiopian art.
There is a permanent African art collection at Portland Art Museum featuring paintings and sculptures from the African continent.
Located in North Philadelphia, Art Sanctuary was “founded with the purpose of using the power of black art to transform individuals, unite groups of people, and enrich, and draw inspiration from the inner city.”
If you’re in Rhode Island, head to Providence for a bit of African art. Visit the Hay Library for a view of African Customary Currencies.
Gallery Chuma is located in Charleston, South Carolina and has artwork of the Gullah people. The gallery is a great way to learn about the Gullah people of coastal South Carolina through art, crafts, storytelling, and books.
This museum is located in Sioux Falls and houses works showing the importance of African Americans in South Dakota.
Head to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and check out the Arts of Global Africa exhibit until June 21, 2021.
The museum was founded in 1974 and has been operating independently since 1979. Visit to view folklore African art.
Arts of Africa is an exhibit at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. There are about fifty textiles and 3-d works spanning twenty-one African cultures.
African American Dreams is an exhibit at Virginia Musem of Fine Arts catered to grades 3 – 12. The exhibit is an “art-based adventure” exploring African Americans in North America through visual sources.
This museum acquired its first work by African American artists in 1944. In 2015, the museum made a conscious effort to deepen its amount of African, African American, and African Diasporic art.
Head to Burlington, Vermont between December 6 – 8 for the Vermont International Festival. Amy’s African Arts & Crafts will be there showcasing work from Senegal.
The Seattle Art Museum has a wide array of African Art. Learn history through the many paintings, sculptures, and photography from the diaspora.
Charleston, West Virginia is the home of this nonprofit whose purpose is to provide “an enhanced cultural learning experience for all visitors.” The center features art that impacts African-Americans in West Virginia.
Wisconsin Black Historical Society aims to preserve the history of African Americans in Wisconsin. There are exhibits at the society showcasing black art in Wisconsin.
This museum is dedicated only to African art. Check out its exhibition: Pioneering Women Photographers in Africa, 1930s – 1970s for a look at the world through women photographers in Africa. On September 28 from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., will be an African Heritage Day celebration including a book discussion and cultural presentations.
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie