African Section Collection Highlights


The African collection at the Penn Museum is one of the largest in the country. It includes approximately 15,000 ethnographic and 5,000 archaeological objects, mostly obtained between 1891 and 1937. A large part of the collection was purchased in 1912 from art dealers in London and Hamburg; many of these objects were collected in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) by the famous German ethnographer Leo Frobenius. A fair amount also came from missionaries working in Africa during the first three decades of the 20th century.

This collection of sculpture, masks, textiles, utilitarian objects, armaments, and ceramics dating from the 17th century to the 20th century are recognized as superb examples of the canons of African Art. The exceptional holdings are from all regions of Africa, with a concentration of artifacts from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Madagascar.

Although many of the artifacts can be appreciated from a purely artistic or aesthetic standpoint, the Museum's main interest in them is as an ethnographic study collection. The collection therefore contains everything from masks and statuary pieces to clothing and musical instruments.

1 - 20 of 35 Objects
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AF3685
78-2-4
AF1438
75-31-1
Mask
AF3685
View Object | 53567
Textile
78-2-4
View Object | 26222
Pile Cloth
AF1438
View Object | 26224
Sculpture
75-31-1
View Object | 26221

30-46-2
Object On Display
AF5380
29-93-3
Object On Display
29-201-704
Figure
30-46-2
View Object | 53579
Statue
AF5380
View Object | 44384
Armlet
29-93-3
View Object | 3743
Tablet
29-201-704
View Object | 26220

2003-53-2
AF1835B
Object On Display
AF1835A
Object On Display
AF466
Object On Display
Basket
2003-53-2
View Object | 53645
Basket Lid
AF1835B
View Object | 44385
Basket
AF1835A
View Object | 44385
Cup
AF466
View Object | 56064

29-12-236
Object On Display
29-93-6A
29-93-6B
42-30-524
Figure
29-12-236
View Object | 44387
Box
29-93-6A
View Object | 53561
Box Lid
29-93-6B
View Object | 53564
Knife
42-30-524
View Object | 26218

29-12-68
87-13-107
Object On Display
87-13-106
Object On Display
AF1937
Sculpture
29-12-68
View Object | 53601
Cross
87-13-107
View Object | 56125
Cross
87-13-106
View Object | 56124
Chopper
AF1937
View Object | 56122

1 - 20 of 35 Objects
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