New Exhibit Explores How African Art Was Inspired By Astronomy

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is preparing to launch a new exhibit focusing on the cultural astronomy of Africa, and its correlation with the nation’s contemporary and traditional arts.

The exhibit showcases the personal relationship between African people and the universe, as well as their connection to Earth, the sky, the moon, the sun and stars. More than 100 items are on display, revealing how African art is inspired by celestial phenomena like lightning and rainbows, too.

Christine Mullen Kreamer of the National Museum of African Art said: “This exhibition, many years in the making, is part of the museum’s series focusing on Africa’s contributions to the history of knowledge- in this case, knowledge about the heavens and how this knowledge informs the creation of spectacular works of art.”

She continued, “The project connects my lifelong fascination with sky-watching to the arts and cultures of Africa, which for decades have been my passion and the focus of my professional work.”

Aside from numerous ancient Egyptian and Nubian wood, stone a papyrus creations, the exhibit will also present 19th and 20th-century pieces made by artists from south of the Sahara. Works by contemporary artists inspired by the cosmos will also be displayed, such as including some by El Anatsui, Willem Boshoff, Gavin Jantjes, Karel Nel, Alexander ‘Skunder’ Boghossian, Romuald Hazoume and several others.

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