Northwestern University’s New Exhibition Will Showcase Art From Medieval African Kingdoms

In January, Northwestern University will debut a new exhibition showcasing the splendor and power of the lost kingdoms and commercial centers of Africa, using centuries old-artifacts from sites around the Sahara Desert and artwork from West and North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

“Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa” is the first major exhibit to highlight West Africa’s global reach in the medieval period of the 8th to 16th centuries by looking directly at its material remains through loans from Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria. Many of the 250 artworks and fragments from the exhibit have never been exhibited in the United States.

The exhibit is curated by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, associate director of curatorial affairs at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. She has worked closely with an interdisciplinary advisory team of art history, archaeology, history and comparative literature specialists working in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Europe. Berzock was curator of African art at the Art Institute of Chicago before coming to Northwestern.

“The legacy of medieval trans-Saharan exchange has largely been omitted from Western historical narratives and art histories, and certainly from the way that Africa is presented in art museums,” Berzock said. “‘Caravans of Gold’ has been conceived to shine a light on Africa’s pivotal role in world history through the tangible materials that remain.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Block Museum January 26 through July 21, 2019. More information on “Caravans of Gold” can be found here.


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