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World Cultures Galleries are closed for redevelopment
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Gallery 20 will be closed from Friday 1 Dec until noon Saturday 2 December

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines

About the Africa collections

About the Africa collections

RAMM cares for over 3,000 items from Africa. This collection contains an assortment of weapons and tools, costume, carvings, masks, musical instruments and personal adornment. Many of these items reflect the rich traditions of art.  They can also serve to represent the dynamic and historic trade connections found throughout the continent and beyond. These items certainly celebrate diversity, wealth, identity, and the status of individuals.

The first donation

The first African items were donated to RAMM in April 1868. This was a pen case and an ink bottle from Egypt. These items were first acquired by traveller John Maddox, author of Excursions in the Holy Land (published 1834).  It is possible that they had been personally used by him when recording his travels.

E564 musele

Knife (musele), Kota people, Gabon. Donated in 1877 by RAMM’s first curator WSM D’Urban. The knife is made exclusively from copper and iron; and was used in initiation ceremonies and marked the owner’s tomb. (Accession E564, H.287 x W.269mm)  

Objects made in the Twentieth Century were associated with the development of new art styles being produced for growing markets in the West. These artworks continued to reflect older traditions but played a key role in presenting an African identity in the climate of modern nation building. Objects also had a role in connecting diasporic African communities to their roots.

What is modern?

Modern objects that will feature in the coming redisplays include a yellow 1970s cargo bag made for Ethiopian Airlines customers and a barkcloth-fabric purse made by Ugandan artist Sarah Nakisanze which includes her own design called kakeeka. Mention should also be given to a watercolour painting by the late artist and sculptor Ben Enwonwu, and a bogolanfini (mud-dyed) handwoven cotton tunic purchased by Solomon Olatunji in Kayes, western Mali in 2013.

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