ART on view 82 from academia and the museum world; feedback sessions with community members, teachers, and museum guides; and brainstorming dialogues with the architects, community members, and MIA staff.10 This process has proven gratifying for all parties involved, but the conversation has not ended with the reopening of the galleries, and it is hoped that further involvement of stakeholders and visitors will continue to improve the museum experience for everyone. While the MIA, with its stairs and columns, may look like a temple from the outside, the African art galleries move it closer to a forum, a space for discovery, experimentation, and debate.11 NOTES 1. See Vogel et al. (1988), Maurer (1999), Hultgren (2011), Kreamer (2011), and Siegmann (2011). 2. These comparable Luba helmet masks are reproduced in Verswijver et al., eds. (1995: 190–91), Zwernemann and Lohse (1985: 183), and Fagg (1968: nr. 32), respectively. 3. The unsubstantiated claim was made by Ceyssens (2011: 251). 4. Kesckési (1987: 163–64 and 1999: 72–73); Object File, AAA Department, MIA. Karin Guggeis of the Universität Bayreuth, Germany, is currently working on a dissertation about the social life of art objects in museums that includes this pair of aquamaniles (Guggeis: forthcoming). 5. Huber (2009) and Horse Capture (2012). 6. Islamic art in general is of great interest to me, and I am currently preparing a traveling exhibition on Islamic Africa: Art and Architecture that will survey the continent. The exhibition received an NEH Planning Grant in 2013 and is scheduled to open at the MIA in spring 2016, before traveling to other venues in the U.S. and Canada. 7. To honor Bill Siegmann’s connoisseurship and generosity, a traveling exhibition of parts of his collection will be touring in 2014 and 2015: Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Having been offered the bulk of his collection, the MIA has taken the lead in organizing it; it will open at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., and subsequently travel to Minneapolis, Bloomington, and Atlanta. 8. VJAA, a collaborative design studio founded in 1995, is the recipient of the prestigious American Institute of Architecture Firm Award and many other prizes. See www.vjaa.com. 9. As recent research has shown, the current image of Mami Wata—the pidgin English name of a West African water spirit—in Africa and its diasporas is based on a photograph of a Samoan snake charmer who performed in the 1880s in the German city of Hamburg that was subsequently turned into a lithograph for the African market in India. See Drewal, ed. (2008). 10. The reinstallation of the African art galleries was financed in part by a Wallace Foundation Excellence Award (2009–2013), a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Planning Grant (2010–2011), and an NEH Implementation Grant (2012–2015). Important additional funding was provided by the W. Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation, Bob Ulrich and Diane Sillik, and Dr. Mary Ruth Weisel. The General Mills Foundation funded the new technologies, while the Friends of the Institute paid for several programming projects. 11. The terms “temple” and “forum” are taken in a slightly altered sense from the title of a famous article published more than forty years ago; see Cameron (1971). engaging multimedia narratives. The interactive map, showing Africa and parts of the surrounding continents, features thirteen icons that display illustrated stories when touched. Each story contains three to eight images with captions. The icons relate to general themes (“Historical African Kingdoms” or “Colonialism,” to name just two) and objects on view (including “Muslim Madagascar” and “Mami Wata’s Journey”). The iPads, conveniently placed in benches, offer two dozen images illustrating objects and stories, with multiple and interconnected content layers. The image of the Benin leopard vessel, for instance, unfolds at a touch into a video interview with art historian Sylvester Ogbechie of the University of California, Santa Barbara, explaining the British Punitive Expedition of 1897 against the Benin king, the looting of the royal palace, and the legal claim made by subsequent kings to the ancient royal treasures currently scattered among Western museums. Other objects are linked to CT scans of their structure, providing evidence of their authenticity, like the famous fourteenthcentury Yoruba Ife head and the Bamana boli altar from Mali (figs. 13a&b). The goal is to engage the senses, emotions, and minds of visitors through sound, moving imagery, skilled storytelling, and layers of information. The reinstallation of the African art galleries took several years and involved focus groups; external advisors FIG. 14: Mask. Dogon, Mali. Late 19th century. Wood. H: 95 cm. The Putnam Dana McMillan Fund, MIA 95.1.
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