Lectures and Programs

African Brilliance: Virtual Tour 

Explore an interactive tour of the celebrated exhibition African Brilliance even though you can't take a field trip! Though this tour was created with teachers, students, and families in mind, everyone can enjoy installation images, pictures of selected works, videos for guided viewing, and related art-making activity suggestions. Use your mouse or touch screen to click the navigational buttons included throughout the presentation to move through the tour.  (Note: Click on the link above to access the tour. Using the Chrome browser may optimize your experience).

"African Brilliance" Virtual Gallery Talk - April 20, 2020

William Dewey, Associate Professor of Art History, Penn State

"The Missionary as Collector: Dr. George W. Harley in Liberia, 1925-1960"

Christopher B. Steiner, Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History and Anthropology and Director of the Museum Studies Program, Connecticut College

Hear Dr. Steiner explore the history of African art collecting in Liberia by examining the work of American medical-missionary Dr. George W. Harley. By tracing his career in Liberia between 1925 and 1960, the lecture reveals how Dr. Harley shifted from ethnographic collecting in the 1930s and 1940s to marketing objects for a burgeoning African art market in America beginning in the 1950s. Steiner considers such issues as the ethics of field collecting, the cultural construction of authenticity, and the role of provenance in the contemporary market for "high end" African art. Co-sponsored by the Palmer Museum of Art, African Studies Program, and the Department of Art History.   

From "Nomoli" to Export Ivories: Sixteenth-Century Sierra Leonean Artists and their Local and European Patrons

Kathy Curnow, Associate Professor of Art History, Cleveland State University

Hear Dr. Curnow discuss the nomoli figure in the collection. Sixteenth-century coastal Sierra Leone included a multitude of Temne and Bullom artists who made small soapstone figures (called nomoli today), as well as wooden figures and masks and ivory trumpets. After Portuguese contact in 1462, they expanded their repertoire to make ivory saltcellars, horns, cutlery, and ecclesiastical items for these foreigners. They retained their figurative style and some motifs, but adapted their works for foreign tastes, creating a cottage industry that lasted for less than a century. Co-sponsored by the Palmer Museum of Art, African Studies Program, and the Department of Art History.