Do You Love Art? Here Are Museums and Galleries Highlighting Art Across The African Diaspora
Photo Credit: Tomas Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Tomas Rodriguez

Do You Love Art? Here Are Museums and Galleries Highlighting Art Across The African Diaspora

Paris , France , Los Angeles , United States , New Orleans , United States , NYC , United States
Spencer Jones
Spencer Jones Mar 1, 2022

As the world gradually starts to return to something close to normal, we can partake in life’s simple pleasures, including visiting museums and art galleries highlighting the African diaspora.

For those of us who are artists, seeing the work of Black creatives both past and present, can inspire. For everyone else, it can deepen appreciation for art and the education it provides. Here, we list some of the major museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre, since both have exhibits of interest to Black visitors, as well as smaller, more humble galleries.

Grab your sketchpad or camera and patronize these ten museums and galleries featuring Black art.

1. The Bedford Stuyvesant Museum of African Art (BSMAA)

If you’re going to Brooklyn, consider visiting this “not for profit organization dedicated to providing an enriching experience to an under-served community in Central Brooklyn.”

On display are pieces of art from over 40 African countries. Beyond that, the museum provides youth outreach programs, films, story telling, artist-in-residence programs, and more.

BSMAA was founded on the idea that it takes a village to maintain a sense of community and to educate younger generations.

2. Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MOCADA)

 

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MOCADA, also in Brooklyn, was founded by Laurie Angela Cumbo in 1999. It is where art and social justice intersect.

Over the last 23 years, the museum has expanded from its origins in a humble brownstone to the facility it is today. It has three “arms”: education, exhibitions, and community.

Due to the pandemic, in-person visits must be arranged in advance. You can book your slot here.

 

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)

This New York City institution has several permanent and temporary displays related to Black art and history.

The African Origin of Civilization exhibition started in mid-December 2021 and is ongoing.

Before Yesterday We Could Fly started in November and is also ongoing. According to the website, it “celebrates enslaved peoples’ imagination, creative uses of flight, and the significance of spirituality and mysticism to Black communities in the midst of great uncertainty. ”

The New York Times called it “breathtaking, immersive and transformational.”

The gallery dedicated to sub-Saharan art, which is part of the Michael C. Rockefeller wing, was inaugurated in 1982. Its renovation is projected to be finished by 2024.

4. High Museum of Art

 

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This Atlanta institution is housing the life-sized Obama portraits until March 2022.

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald painted Barack and Michelle, respectively. There’s a vibrant, playful element to these works, making them distinct from more traditional, rigid portraits of presidents and their wives.

To see them, you’ll need to purchase separate tickets. Due to their popularity, try to go during the week.

5. New Orleans African American Museum (NOAAM)

 

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Gia Hamilton, the chief curator and executive director of NOAAM said:

“The contributions of African Americans in Treme, New Orleans and our nation are so vast and important to American culture that at the New Orleans African American Museum, we situate ourselves as an international cultural epicenter.”

Past exhibitions include Yesterday We Said Tomorrow, “the fifth edition of Prospect New Orleans, a citywide art exhibition.” It got its name from New Orleans-based musician Christian Scott, who released an album of the same name in 2010.

6. Band of Vices

 

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Founded by Terrell Tilford, Band of Vices aims to magnify marginalized voices. It’s located in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.

The present exhibition, Long Runner, will run until March 26.

The exhibition that preceded it, Straddle the Whirlwind, featured the work of Sharon Louise Barnes, an interdisciplinary artist.

Past exhibitions include Kangs, We’ve Always Been Here, and In The Midst of All That is. 

7. Musée du Louvre

 

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The Louvre is easily the most iconic museum in Paris, and the Pavillon des Sessions is where you’ll find the African masks and sculptures. 

In 2018, Beyoncé and Jay-Z famously shot the video for Apesh*t within view of some of the Louvre’s most famous works, including Mona Lisa and the headless Nike.

According to CNN, in 2020, the museum was at the center of a campaign to return Black artifacts to the motherland.

One of the men involved, a Congolese activist named Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza, said, “I came to take what has been looted from Africa.”

8. African American Museum of The Arts (AAMA)

 

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This museum in Florida is “the only one in Deland devoted primarily to African-American cultures and art.”

Guests can feast their eyes on the works of artists past and present, as well as African artifacts.

AAMA’s mission “is to collect, preserve, and promote African and Caribbean-American art. Materials, facilities and instructions are provided for the creation, appreciation and understanding of African American and Caribbean American art and culture.”

Admission is free.

9. Nicola Vassell Gallery

This gallery in lower Manhattan was named for Black curator and art dealer, Nicola Vassell. It’s the first Black-owned gallery in Chelsea.

It exhibits the works of contemporary, mostly Black artists, from painters to photographers.

Through March 5, the gallery hosts Blackalachia, “a feature length performance film and photographic series created by Moses Sumney.” It documents the artist’s experiences in the Blue Ridge Mountains in summer 2020.

10. Richard Beavers Gallery

You’ll find this art gallery in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

According to Black-Owned Brooklyn, when Beavers opened the gallery in 2007, he was met with criticism from those wondering why he didn’t do it in SoHo or Chelsea.

“It’s important for us to have spaces within our community where we can see artwork that tells our stories,” Beavers said. “I’ve been collecting art, created by artists of the African diaspora, for over 30 years but always had to go outside my community for it. Then those selling the art were not reflective of who we are. It’s more about a monetary exchange than a pushing of the culture.”

Related: How Kiana Calder Is Creating A Safe Space For Black Artists To Showcase Their Work

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