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Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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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.

Now at the Met

The Arts of a Mesoamerican Metropolis, Here at the Met

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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.

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Now at the Met

The Drinking Cup of a Classic Maya Noble

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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."

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Now at the Met

#AskaCurator Day on Twitter

Taylor Newby, Social Media Manager, Digital Media

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.

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How to Read Oceanic Art—Interview with Author Eric Kjellgren

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

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.

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Now at the Met

A Stone Sphere from Costa Rica

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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."

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Teen Blog

How Well Do You Know the Met?

Emma, Former High School Intern

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to some of the world's most respected art. People from all over the world come to see the collection and appreciate the history and stories that the works present. Think you know the Met's collection like a pro? Here's a game to test your knowledge and see just how much you know about the artists and their subjects.

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Spectrum Spotlight: Yaëlle Biro

Lucy Redoglia, Associate Online Community Producer, Digital Media; and Christopher Gorman, Assistant for Administration, Audience Development

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.

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month at the Met

Donna Williams, Chief Audience Development Officer

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.

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Now at the Met

What's New: Gallery 351

Yaëlle Biro, Associate Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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.

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A Tribute to J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere (1930–2014)

Giulia Paoletti, J. Clawson Mills Fellow, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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.

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