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Creative Africa
May 14, 2016 - September 25, 2016
Creative Africa
May 14, 2016 - September 25, 2016

Innovation and tradition come together in a celebration of African art and design in the Perelman Building.

From contemporary photography, fashion, and architecture to centuries-old sculpture, Creative Africa presents the visionary work of artists throughout Africa. At the heart of the season is Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, a major exhibition drawn from the Penn Museum’s distinguished African collection.

Creative Africa also boasts a dynamic schedule of programs, artist talks, family festivals, and community conversations.


Share your experience #CreativeAfrica @philamuseum.

Exhibition Trailer


Altar head
Altar Head, 16th century
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia: Purchased from W. O. Oldman. Image courtesy of the Penn Museum, Image #250922. Photograph by Gary Ombler for Dorling Kindersley

Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art

May 14–December 4, 2016
Special Exhibitions Gallery
Gain a fresh perspective on Africa’s rich artistic heritage in this selection of works from the world-renowned collections of the Penn Museum. This exhibition includes a variety of art created in West and Central Africa from the 1500s to the 1900s. It includes carved ivories and bronze altar objects from the kingdom of Benin, Kongo power figures, Kuba textiles and vessels, Akan gold weights, Kota reliquary figures, and more.

Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in cooperation with the Penn Museum.

Alexandra Township
Alexandra Township, from the series Shebeen Blues, 2008
Ananias Léki Dago, Ivorian, born 1970
Courtesy of the artist. © Ananias Léki Dago

Three Photographers/Six Cities

April 30–September 25, 2016
Julien Levy Gallery
Get an in-depth look at three photographers—Akinbode Akinbiyi, Seydou Camara, and Ananias Léki Dago—who create powerful pictures of six African cities: Cairo, Nairobi, Lagos, Johannesburg, Bamako, and Tombouctou.

Dazzling Graphics collection, 2011
Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands
Photograph by Fritz Kok

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage

April 30, 2016–January 22, 2017
Joan Spain Gallery
Discover how the Dutch company Vlisco became one of the most influential textile brands in West and Central African fashion and a design inspiration around the world. This exhibition explores the company’s most enduring designs, follows the creation of a new textile, and showcases a selection of contemporary fashions.

Surgical Clinic
Surgical Clinic and Health Center, Léo, Burkina Faso, 2014
Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin
Photograph courtesy of Kéré Architecture

The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community

May 14–September 25, 2016
Collab Gallery and the Skylit Atrium
Explore Francis Kéré’s inventive approach to building. Born in Burkina Faso and based in Berlin, Kéré integrates traditional knowledge and craft skills into innovative and sustainable buildings worldwide. This exhibition offers a look at some of his award-winning designs within an colorful interactive environment.

Woman’s Cloth
Woman’s Cloth (detail), c. 1930–80
Asante culture, Akan peoples, Ghana
Purchased with funds contributed by donors to the Costume and Textiles Revolving Fund, 2001-170-1a
[ More Details ]

Threads of Tradition

April 30, 2016–January 2017
Costume and Textiles Study Gallery
Admire the dazzling patterns of traditional African textiles and uncover the techniques used to achieve them. This exhibition highlights a selection of West and Central African textiles, including exquisite examples of kente cloth worn as a sign of wealth and prestige.


The Philadelphia Museum of Art is supported by an Advancement grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Creative Africa is made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Arlin and Neysa Adams Endowment Fund, The Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, Julia and Gene Ericksen, Osagie and Losenge Imasogie, Dr. and Mrs. John T. Williams, and a generous anonymous donor.


Art Splash is presented by PNC Arts Alive. Additional generous support is provided by The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Origlio Beverage and The Honickman Group, Mrs. Kay Bossone, Mari and Peter Shaw, Steve and Gretchen Burke, and Deena S. Gerson in honor of Isaac Henry Hohns.

Project Coordinator

John Vick, Project Assistant Curator, Modern Art


Perelman Building, unless noted otherwise

Top of page: Nouvelle Histoire collection, 2011, by Vlisco. Photograph by Carmen Kemmink