New Permanent Exhibit Highlights Cultural Diversity in Africa
June 16th, 2014
The Museum has opened a new long-term exhibit entitled A Glimpse of Africa: Five Cultures from the Continent, which explores the remarkable amount of cultural diversity found in Africa by providing an in-depth examination of five ethnic groups: the Bamileke of Cameroon, the Baule of Cote d’Ivoire, the Kuba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Tuareg of the western Sahara, and the Zulu of South Africa.
Although American popular culture often portrays Africa as a homogeneous entity, it is home to at least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups. Two thousand recognized languages, representing more than 25% of all languages in the world, are spoken on the continent. Additionally, Africans are more genetically diverse than the inhabitants of the rest of the world combined. The five cultures featured in the exhibit showcase this diversity.
The artifacts on display include ceramics, textiles, baskets, masks, weapons, personal adornment, and other objects from daily life. Although the artifacts vary in age, they largely focus on “traditional” ways of life. However, several pieces provide insight as to how tradition can be transformed through internal and external influences.
The exhibit was curated by the Museum’s student employees with staff supervision. Wake Forest students Austin Brown (junior philosophy major), Chris Rinker (second year Divinity School student), and Olivia Whitener (junior Anthropology major) each created an overview of their chosen ethnic groups, selected and researched artifacts from the MOA’s extensive African collections, and composed exhibit text. As a summer employee, Chris Rinker also provided invaluable assistance installing the exhibit.