Saturday, February 8, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
PHILADELPHIA, PA—African music, belly dancing in the North African tradition, storytelling, arts, artifacts, games, crafts, and cuisine all come together Saturday, February 8, 1:00 to 4:00 pm, for the Penn Museum's annual Celebration of African Cultures. Now in its 25th year, the festive event features an array of renowned local artists including the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, storyteller Momma Sandi and the percussionists of the Women's Sekere Ensemble. The afternoon is free with Museum admission donation ($15, general admission; $13, seniors [65+]; $10, children [6-17] and full-time students [with ID]; free to children under 5, members, active U.S. Military, and PennCard holders).
The celebration is co-sponsored by the Africa Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Activities for Children and Elders
The Women's Sekere Ensemble opens the afternoon with the rhythms and tones of the sekere, a traditional Nigerian percussion instrument made from intricately beaded gourds, and an agogô, a bell with origins in traditional Yoruba music. Dedicated to the preservation of African music, the percussionists perform at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
The performers of African Rhythms, the University of Pennsylvania troupe, demonstrate the cooperative relationship between dancers and drummers at 1:15 pm. Practicing self-sufficiency and the African aesthetic of unity, the performers wear beads they have strung themselves.
At 1:45 pm, Habiba, international belly dancer, demonstrates folkloric and classical belly dances of Tunisia, such as the Raks al Juzur (Pot Dance) and Raks al Maharem (Scarf Dance). Tunisia has a richly mixed cultural heritage, including Phoenician, Berber, Roman, early Christian, Islamic, and Jewish elements. The Tunisian style of belly dance is earthy, concentrates on sharp hip twists, and is performed by men and women. All guests are encouraged to try to learn how to shimmy, hip-drop, and undulate in this fun workshop.
At 2:30 pm, Momma Sandi, a member of the National Association of African American Storytellers, serves up rich stories with songs and movement as inspired the mix of African, Caribbean, and Southern tales she heard as a child.
Members of the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble offer a thrilling performance at 3:15 pm. The group known for presentations representing Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, treats guests to an energetic finale.
Throughout the day visitors can learn to play the traditional "board" game mancala, and create their own mancala games, African masks, and kente cloths at family craft tables.
In conjunction with the Africa Center of the University of Pennsylvania, international members of the community share cultural traditions from their homelands with guests at various locations in the galleries.
The Barnes Foundation joins in the celebration with information about its current exhibition Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders (on display through April 21, 2014). A British artist of Nigerian descent, Shonibare examines identity, history, and politics using sculptures of life-sized mannequins clothed in the Dutch wax fabrics associated with Africa. The Barnes collection also features a significant African art collection with works from the Baule, Bini (or Edo), Dan, Dogon, Fang, Guro, and Lagoons (Ebrie) Senufo peoples, among others, on display throughout the year.
An African mini-marketplace brings colorful prints and patterns available for purchase to the Chinese Rotunda. The Kool Kreations team displays their African doll-shaped air fresheners, as Rashida Watson from The Silk Tent displays African textiles, jewelry, and artifacts, while the Olney Art Exchange displays art, apparel, and accessories made of wood, leather, and bronze by local and West African artisans.
Visitors can also stop by the Museum Shop and the Pyramid Shop for Children to browse African-inspired and fair trade, African-made items, including Sofala bangle bracelets from South Africa, fair trade items which support women's employment. Inspired by the 16th-century trade prowess of the Mutapa Kingdoms of modern-day Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the bracelets' symbols and patterns celebrate the ancient tradition of adornment and a rich culture of craftsmanship. The bangles are 100% handmade from recycled materials and take hours to weave.
The Pepper Mill Café also gets into the spirit, offering African-inspired afternoon snacks.
Inspiration throughout the Galleries
Visitors can explore art and artifacts from across the African Diaspora in Penn Museum's current special exhibition Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster, the Imagine Africa gallery project, the African Gallery and the ancient Egypt Galleries.
Black Bodies in Propaganda—on display through March 2, 2014—presents 33 posters, most targeting Africans and African-American civilians in times of war. These carefully designed works of art were aimed at mobilizing people of color in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands. Witness changing messages on race and politics through propaganda from the American Civil War to the African Independence movement in this innovative, world-premiere exhibition.
Tukufu Zuberi—host of the long-running PBS television series History Detectives—curated the exhibition. The Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations, and Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he provides his perspective on more than 200 years of African and African American military history, told through his private collection of propaganda posters. In addition to the posters, the exhibition features three objects from the Penn Museum's African Collection, as well as a touchscreen interactive to explore some of the posters' distinctive iconography, archival military recruitment films, and a related segment from PBS' History Detectives.
Imagine Africa draws upon the Museum's extraordinary African collection, presenting objects framed around broad topics, from "Beauty" and "Strength," to "Healing," "Creating," and "The Divine." The gallery installation, set adjacent to the older African Gallery, invites the community to join in the discussion as the Museum develops long-range plans to re-envision its African Gallery for a 21st century audience.
The African Gallery features more than 300 objects from cultures throughout the continent, including masks, gold weights, textiles, sculpture, and musical instruments. The Museum also includes Egyptian Galleries with Egyptian mummies, a 12-ton red granite Sphinx (the third largest Sphinx in the Western hemisphere), and architectural elements from the Palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah, all ca. 1200 BCE, as well as statuary and tomb materials from 5,000 years of Egyptian culture.
Annual Celebration of African Cultures 2014 Schedule
1:00 pm Women's Sekere Ensemble
1:15 pm African Rhythms Dance Performance
1:45 pm Tunisian Belly Dance Workshop with Habiba
2:30 pm Storytelling with Momma Sandi
3:00 pm Women's Sekere Ensemble
3:15 pm Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble Performance and Finale
All Day Events, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Family make-and-take crafts
African mini-marketplace and Museum Shops
Pepper Mill Café
Special African-inspired Snack Menu
The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.
The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA's Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays of each month until 8:00 pm. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); $10 for children (6-17) and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, active U.S. Military, and children 5 and younger.
Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop and Pyramid Shop for Children offer a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.
TWEET IT! Honor the heart of Black History Month at the @pennmuseum's Celebration of African Cultures, Sat Feb 8, 1-4pm: http://bit.ly/1fC0W8i
Image captions (top to bottom): The Penn Museum's 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 8, includes a performance by the Women's Sekere Ensemble, who play the sekere, a traditional Nigerian gourd instrument (Photo: Penn Museum). Visitors to the Penn Museum's 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 8, can join a belly dancing workshop with international belly dancer Habiba, shown balancing a pot on her head to demonstrate the Tunisian Raks al Juzur (Pot Dance) (Photo: Randall Scott). National Association of African American Storytellers member Momma Sandi returns to the Penn Museum to weave tales for the museum's 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 8, 2014 (Photo: Penn Museum). Penn Museum's lineup for its 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February, 8, 2014 includes the talented performers of the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble. (Photo: Penn Museum) Sofala bangles from South Africa are among the fair trade items available for purchase in the Museum Shop at the Penn Museum during its 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 8, 2014. ($7.99 each) (Photo: Penn Museum). Guests to the Penn Museum's 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 8, can view "Belgium Fights On," United States," 1939-1945, one of 33 posters on view in the special exhibition Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster. Belgium recruited colonial Congolese soldiers, even while Belgian policies violently exploited the people and resources of Congo. The exhibition runs through March 2, 2014 (Image: Penn Museum). Guests to the Penn Museum's 25th annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 8, 2014, can browse the African Gallery, which features 300-plus items, including masks from Western and Central Africa (Photo: Penn Museum).