University of Notre Dame
100 Moose Krause Circle
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Fritz and Milly Kaeser Mestrovic Studio Gallery
The Snite Museum of Art African art collection reopened the fall of 2017 within a larger, more prestigious space on the main floor of the Museum. The reinstallation explores themes of power.
In the past, African art was often tied into the way African leaders promoted their agendas. Royalty and rulers used art to project their authority; religious groups promoted their faiths; while the wealthy desired to display their riches. Ordinary Africans also used art to enable them to wield their own forms of power. Since supernatural forces were thought to play a large role in determining events, it was important to own objects that could withstand or shape events that lay beyond ordinary control. Fifty-nine outstanding works from the Snite Museum collection will illustrate these ideas through themes of economic, political, social, and spiritual power in Africa.
Most of these works have never been on public view before. Nearly a third belong to the Owen D. Mort Jr. Collection, with art primarily from Democratic Republic of Congo, where Mort worked for many years. As he said, “My hope is to educate people on Africa. It’s been a great love of mine… Ideally Notre Dame would use the collection for education, to get interest going in Africa.”
The African gallery features online interpretive tools to encourage further learning. A highlight is the digital touch screen with an interactive map of Africa.
The reinstallation is curated by Visiting Curator of African Art Elizabeth Morton. An exhibition catalogue by Dr. Morton is available.
This exhibition is generously supported by the Lake Family Endowment for the Arts of the Americas, Africa, and Oceania.
Image: Unknown Artist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gitenga Muganji Mask, Mid 20th Century, Pende Style, plant fiber, feathers & clay pigment.