The Museum's collection of art of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and North, Central, and South America comprises more than eleven thousand works of art of varied materials and types, representing diverse cultural traditions from as early as 3000 B.C.E. to the present. Highlights include decorative and ceremonial objects from the Court of Benin in Nigeria; sculpture from West and Central Africa; images of gods, ancestors, and spirits from New Guinea, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Island Southeast Asia; and objects of gold, ceramic, and stone from the Precolumbian cultures of Mexico and Central and South America.
Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Sergio Gomez and a team of investigators under the Feathered Serpent Pyramid at the site of Teotihuacan—one of the largest and most elaborate pyramids of the ancient world—are exploring a recently discovered man-made tunnel that passes under the east-west axis of the building, and have already uncovered rich dedicatory offerings using unmanned vehicles and controlled excavations (fig. 1). Teotihuacan is remarkable for the scale and elaboration of its architecture, the well-organized grid on which the city was planned, and an artistic tradition that included stone sculpture, mural painting, and pottery. The city's residents lived in complex apartment compounds from the late first millennium b.c. to the mid-seventh century a.d., suggesting a relatively stable social structure unlike that of other cities in the ancient New World. There were even neighborhoods of foreigners who continued their local traditions in distinct "barrios" of the city. A truly cosmopolitan place, Teotihuacan was the Manhattan of its time—a hub of activity and a destination for those from far away.
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014
When researchers deciphering the Classic Maya (ca. a.d. 250–900) hieroglyphic writing turned their attention to texts on ceramic vessels, they encountered a repeated series of similar signs first known as the "Primary Standard Sequence." The signs were statements that Classic Maya artists used to name the type of vessel (e.g., "plate" vs. "drinking cup"), the material it originally held (e.g., "chocolate" vs. "tamales"), and the owner or giver of the gift. For instance, the text around the rim of the vessel from the Met's collection (fig. 1, shown at left) identifies it as a "drinking cup."
Posted: Monday, September 15, 2014
This Wednesday, September 17, join us on Twitter for Ask a Curator Day. Three curators will answer your questions about their jobs, collections, exhibitions, and more during live Twitter Q&As. You can tweet your questions to @metmuseum using the #AskaCurator hashtag both in advance and during the following sessions.
Posted: Monday, September 15, 2014
With the start of a new school year, it is a great time to learn about the art and cultures of Oceania with the help of this fascinating new publication, written specifically to provide the keys to understanding the significance and meaning of Oceanic art. How to Read Oceanic Art is a clear and detailed introduction to Oceanic art as seen through the Met's comprehensive collection. I recently spoke with the book's author, Eric Kjellgren—formerly the Evelyn A. J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas—about this engaging introduction to Oceanic art and his interest in the artistic traditions of the Pacific Islands.
Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In June 2014 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named the "Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís" to its World Heritage List, the first cultural site from Costa Rica to make the list of global heritage sites. The team from the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, led by archaeologist Dr. Francisco Corrales Ulloa, nominated these sites as an "outstanding representation of the complex social, economic and political systems, as well as the refined cultural achievements, of chiefdom societies of the south Central American region during the pre-Columbian period a.d. 500–1500."
Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Brought to you by the Spectrum group, which encourages post-college audiences to experience the Met in new and unexpected ways, this post is the third installment of our "Spectrum Spotlight" series, which introduces some of the staff members who make the Museum such a special place.
Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This month affords us the opportunity to reflect on the various achievements and traditions of so many of our neighbors, friends, and family members. The Metropolitan's permanent collection and current exhibitions offer a calm and reflective setting for appreciating the art from this part of the world.
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014
At the entrance to the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, in the gallery devoted to Ethiopian art (Gallery 351), an installation combines historical works from the Museum's collection with a series of related creations by a contemporary artist on loan from a private collection.
Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
On February 2, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, one of the greatest African photographers of the twentieth century, passed away. Over a career that spanned more than fifty years, Ojeikere exhibited internationally in major venues such as the Venice Biennial, Tate Modern, Studio Museum in Harlem, Documenta, and Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, among others. He is represented in some of the most prestigious collections, including the Met's, which includes two photographs from his celebrated Hairstyles series.
Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012
Left: Heroic Africans exhibition catalogue; Right: Commemorative figure of a priestess, 19th century. Cameroon, Grassfields region, Bangwa chiefdom. Bamileke peoples. Wood, pigments. Musée Dapper, Paris (3343)
Alisa LaGamma, curator of Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures and author of the accompanying catalogue, recently discussed the Commemorative figure of a priestess, one of the masterpieces from the exhibition, for the Yale University Press blog. Don't miss the rare opportunity to see the powerful figure, on loan from the Musée Dapper, Paris (3343). The exhibition at the Met closes on January 29 before traveling to the Museum Rietberg in Zurich.