Gumbo was visiting the National Museum of African Art in Washington. Congratulations to Professor Abe who solve this week's travel puzzle.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAA) is located on Independence Avenue on the National Mall of Washington DC. It sits right next door to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Asian Art, but the Sackler was closed for the day that I was there as they were setting up for a new exhibit. Two blocks away is also the famed Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I walked here from the Tidal Basin area where I visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Memorials.
This museum is not to be confused with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture which is located on Constitution Avenue.
NMAA was founded in 1964 and called the Museum of African Art. The museum initially blossomed from the 1950’s private collection of an American Foreign Service officer named Warren M. Robbins, who collected African items when stationed overseas. NMAA now boasts somewhere between 9,000 and 12,000 pieces that include masks, figurines, clothing, sculptures, textiles, artwork and more. This was the first museum dedicated to African art in the United States. The current museum building was opened in 1987. According to Smithsonian visitor numbers, it is close to the bottom of all museums visited, but nonetheless intriguing in my opinion.
The NMAA was free to enter and allowed photography without the flash. It is open daily from 10AM to 5:30PM and closed on Christmas Day. It has three levels underground with a circular stairway looking down to a blue water fountain.
Some of the pieces that caught my attention to pause were the Nokia Cell Phone Wood Coffin from Ghana; Sophie-Merica domestic uniform dress from South Africa; the Repurposed Aluminum and Copper (looks like gold) wall hanging from Ghana or Nigeria; the geometric Wind Sculpture VII from Nigeria mounted on the building’s lawn; Epa Helmet Mask From the Alaga of Odo Owo, Bamgboye in Nigeria; a Nkanu Sculpture from Central Africa; and Blue Bra Girls polished stainless steel sculpture by Egyptian artist Ghada Amer in honor of a woman beaten during the Arab Spring.