This digital exhibition catalogue is the result of a collaboration among the Palmer Museum of Art, the Penn State University Libraries, the Department of Art History, and the College of Arts and Architecture's Office of Digital Learning.

It is funded by a Penn State Strategic Initiative Seed Grant in support of advancing the arts and humanities, titled “Engaging the Palmer’s Public: An Online Publishing Platform for Outreach and Education.” Patrick McGrady (Charles V. Hallman Curator, Palmer Museum of Art), John Russell (Associate Director, Center for Humanities and Information, and Digital Humanities Librarian, Research Informatics and Publishing, University Libraries), and Carolyn Lucarelli (Curator of Visual Resources, Visual Resources Centre, Department of Art History) are the project’s principal investigators.

The following individuals have contributed to this initiative: 

William Dewey is an associate professor teaching in the Department of Art History and the African Studies Program at Penn State. His field research has largely focused on Zimbabwe, eSwatini (Swaziland) and the DRC. In addition to African Brilliance, he has curated many exhibitions of African Art in the United States and Europe, and his exhibition publications include, Sleeping Beauties: The Jerome L. Joss Collection of Headrests, Legacies of Stone, Zimbabwe: Past and Present, Iron, Master of Them All, and chapters in Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths, MEMORY: Luba Art and the Making of History, and Material Differences: Art and Identity in Africa.

Janet Purdy is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Penn State and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was assistant curator for the exhibition At Home in Africa: Design, Beauty, and Pleasing Irregularity in Domestic Settings (2014, Galleries at Cleveland State University), and has held curatorial internships in The Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands at the Baltimore Museum of Art, in African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and at the Palmer Museum of Art.

Dr. Mary Jo Arnoldi is curator emerita in the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, where she was the curator of African ethnology and the arts from 1984 to 2019. She has curated numerous exhibitions including African Voices, the museum’s permanent exhibition on African and African Diaspora history and culture, Mud Masons of Mali, and Crowning Achievements: African Art of Dressing the Head. She published several books and numerous articles on African art and on the African collections in the Museum of Natural History and on the museum’s history of exhibiting African cultures from the 1890s through the present day. 

Patrick McGrady is the Charles V. Hallman Senior Curator at the Palmer Museum of Art. A specialist on prints and other works on paper, he has organized more than seventy exhibitions during his career at the Palmer. He serves as the in-house curator for African Brilliance.

John Russell is the associate director of the Center for Humanities and Information, and digital humanities librarian in the Department of Research Informatics and Publishing, Penn State University Libraries.

Carolyn Lucarelli is the visual resources curator in the Department of Art History Visual Resources Centre (VRC) at Penn State. Before coming to Penn State, she held positions in the Photograph and Slide Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the Department of Art History at Dartmouth College. In addition to her role as a co-collaborator on the digital catalogue for African Brilliance, she leads the VRC in managing other online exhibitions and digital image collections. Recently she has been developing new initiatives in digital art history.

Catherine Adams has worked as the assistant curator of the Visual Resources Centre in the Department of Art History at Penn State  since 2007. She has experience in metadata and digital image creation and curation. She manages the Art History Department Visual Resource Collection and Palmer Museum of Art online collections in CONTENTdm. She aided in the creation of the Arts and Architecture Resource Collaborative (AARC) and in several Omeka and Omeka S sites. She holds a B.A. from Penn State and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

Emily Hagen is a doctoral student in the Department of Art History at Penn State, with a specialization in Baroque architecture and urbanism in Rome. Her current research focuses on the phenomenon of elevation in the city views of Lieven Cruyl, a Netherlandish draftsman who worked in Rome between 1664 and 1675. Emily has been actively engaged with the digital humanities since the spring of 2017, contributing to numerous projects involving data collection and visualization, online exhibitions, and digital content management.

Cody Goddard is the Office of Digital Learning’s multimedia specialist. His primary job responsibilities include creating media for online courses and managing student media developers. Cody received his B.F.A. in art with concentration in photography and B.A. in integrative arts with honors from Penn State in 2010. Cody has wide-ranging interests that influence his work, including alternative and antique photography, woodworking, metalworking, new media art, and sculpture. He frequently gives guest demonstrations and lectures for photography classes at Penn State.

Nikki Massaro Kauffman is a unique combination of front-end developer, multimedia specialist, and educator. Nikki uses the web and educational technology to give learners of all backgrounds access to educational content. Her passion is to build platforms that allow students, instructors, and content authors to create rich, interactive, and fully accessible content. Nikki has degrees in both computer science and education and has been working in these fields since 1998.

Richard Hall is the senior preparator at the Palmer Museum of Art.

Brandi Breslin is the museum educator at the Palmer Museum of Art. Prior to assuming this position, she served as a museum educator at the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art from 2002 to 2018. Brandi is responsible for designing and managing museum programs that engage a diverse array of audiences, including faculty and students at Penn State, preK-12 students and educators, families and children, volunteer groups, and community members. She also collaborates with museum staff and faculty to develop in-gallery interpretive strategies and digital content, and she leads a team of graduate assistants and undergraduate interns who contribute remarkable talent, skills, and dedication to supporting museum exhibitions and programs. 

Caroline Bastian is a first-year master’s candidate in art history at Penn State working with her advisor, Dr. Dewey, on advancing her studies of African arts and museum studies. She focuses her work on the so-called traditional African arts, specifically West African performance arts, the individual artist, and the implications of Western misperception.

Dr. Elyan Jeanine Hill is currently the Africana Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State. Her research interests include histories of slavery, collective memory, visual culture, and performance in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Liberia, and their diasporas. Specifically, her research examines festival and ritual dance performances by artists in both Ghana and Togo as dynamic forms of history-keeping, problem-solving, and traditional education for young women. Her multi-year doctoral fieldwork was funded by UCLA’s International Institute, a Fowler Museum Ralph C. Altman Fellowship, and a West African Research Association (WARA) pre-doctoral fellowship.

Beverly Sutley is the registrar at the Palmer Museum of Art.

James Barr serves as the systems administrator for the College of Arts and Architecture Information Technology. James manages the college’s servers and workstations, and supports several online resources for the college. For the African Brilliance project, James configured the web server and provided technical support for the authors and content creators.

Jennifer Glissman is a master’s student in the Department of Art History at Penn State, with a specialization in Italian Renaissance sculpture. She is currently pursuing digital projects with the aim of making art historical education more broadly accessible and entertaining for younger learners. She has been working under the guidance of the Visual Resources Centre at Penn State since the fall of 2019.


This digital exhibition catalogue, African Brilliance: A Diplomat’s Sixty Years of Collecting, is copyrighted by Penn State. Individual items displayed in this publication may be subject to different copyrights; see item pages for credits.

When using any of this material, it is your responsibility, as the user, to secure permissions and adhere to the stated access policy, copyright laws, and educational fair-use guidelines.

For more information, please consult Penn State Copyright Portal.

Photography Credits

Efforts have been made to contact and acknowledge copyright holders for all reproductions; additional rights holders are encouraged to contact the Palmer Museum of Art.

Cody Goddard is responsible for all 360-degree object photography as well as the video interviews with Allen Davis and the participants in "African Voices."

The majority of the still object photographs were produced by Cody Goddard, with additional images by William Ames and Mark Selders.