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The African continent, the world’s second largest land mass and population, has been the host to numerous diverse cultures that have flourished throughout the ages. From the prehistoric to the present African peoples have produced artworks as varied as the land and environments in which they reside from today’s Cairo to Cape Town, Dakar to Mombasa.

To properly reflect the scope and range of these important works, NOMA is unveiling a new presentation of the third floor Sadie Downman Billion and Oliver Armand Billion Gallery this April. While the focus of the museum’s current holdings is concentrated on the sculptural objects and architecture of the principle art-producing peoples living south of the Sahara Desert, particularly the Western Sudan, Guinea Coast, Equatorial Forest, Southern Savannah and East Africa, other African artistic achievements and times are recognized from this richly diverse continent. The myriad sculptural styles are as great as the many language groups and cultures in this broad area.

The newly reinvigorated installation, which embraces the entire continent of Africa for the first time, is designed to enhance the visitor experience. Organized into distinct geographic regions with new maps, the gallery also includes interpretive materials such as photo murals and video footage that place the objects in context; showing how, why and by whom they were used. New labels also reflect the latest scholarship.

Entering the gallery, visitors encounter a large façade of seven elaborately carved house posts from a Cameroon Grassfields palace.* A full-size scrim illustrating the entrance wall of the building contains a doorway opening that reveals an eighth post originally positioned immediately inside. Other objects from the Cameroons are on view surrounding this dramatic focal point.

The newly reinvigorated installation, which embraces the entire continent of Africa for the first time, is designed to enhance the visitor experience. William Fagaly

NOMA has also introduced new technology into the gallery with a projected CT scan that discloses the hidden sculptural contents of a terra cotta object. This revealing information provides valuable new insights into the culture of these ancient peoples. The architectural model with serpents from the eleventh to seventeenth centuries and was produced by the Inland Niger Delta Peoples of Mali popularly referred to as the Djenne.

Perhaps the most significant change in the new installation is the addition of the art of ancient Egypt with a selection of works in various mediums from NOMA’s permanent collection. Included are a polychromed wood Hapi figure, a small bronze Shawabti figure, a boat with four figures, a wood and glass pectoral ornament, a glass snake, and a multicolored glass column flask.

Our Local Publisher Partners

The Arts Council of New Orleans

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

WWNO

WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

WWOZ

WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

PRC

Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

NOMA

As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

Southern Food

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

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