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
29-12-236
Object On Display
AF5380
Mask
AF3685
View Object | 53567
Textile
78-2-4
View Object | 26222
Figure
29-12-236
View Object | 44387
Statue
AF5380
View Object | 44384

29-93-3
Object On Display
75-31-1
AF1438
AF428
Armlet
29-93-3
View Object | 3743
Sculpture
75-31-1
View Object | 26221
Pile Cloth
AF1438
View Object | 26224
Cup
AF428
View Object | 166911

AF5116
87-13-106
Object On Display
AF1937
AF2066
Object On Display
Cup
AF5116
View Object | 166995
Cross
87-13-106
View Object | 56124
Chopper
AF1937
View Object | 56122
Plaque
AF2066
View Object | 53573

AF1437
29-93-39
30-46-2
Object On Display
29-93-6A
Pile Cloth
AF1437
View Object | 26223
Drum
29-93-39
View Object | 53646
Figure
30-46-2
View Object | 53579
Box
29-93-6A
View Object | 53561

29-93-6B
42-30-524
87-13-107
Object On Display
AF521B
Box Lid
29-93-6B
View Object | 53564
Knife
42-30-524
View Object | 26218
Cross
87-13-107
View Object | 56125
Box Lid
AF521B
View Object | 26217

1 - 20 of 35 Objects
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