300 Works of Art Seen Through Seven Perspectives
“Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa’s Arts” will open at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Nov. 4. The exhibition will be the largest long-term presentation of the museum’s collection in over a decade and the first to offer broad thematic connections between works across the full spectrum of times, places and media represented in the museum’s holdings. “Visionary” aims to get visitors to look with fresh and focused insight and, in so doing, to see artworks—and each other—with new eyes.
“Visionary” is organized around seven viewpoints, each of which serve to frame and affect the manner in which Africa’s art are experienced. With a room devoted to each viewpoint, the installation presents the museum’s collection from the perspective of collectors, scholars, artists, patrons, visitors, performers—and the museum itself. A range of interactive experiences within the gallery will connect visitors to the role such perspectives play in shaping the understanding of an object.
The exhibition will feature over 300 works of art, organized around the central activity of looking—looking closely at issues of technique and creative expression, looking broadly at the varied lives these assembled objects have lived and looking critically at how new contexts shift how we see art works. “Visionary” represents a broad range of Africa’s creative visual expressions. It will occupy the entirety of the museum’s multistory, second-floor gallery, covering nearly 6,000 square feet—re-anchoring the permanent collection at the heart of our programs and visitor experience.