Ancestors of Congo Square: African Art in the New Orleans Museum of Art, on display May 13 to July 17. In keeping with the spirit of NOMA’s centennial year, the Museum will be highlighting one of the most impressive areas of its permanent collection: its extensive holdings in African art. Additionally, the exhibition will look at the strong artistic and cultural connections between New Orleans and Africa.
The title of the exhibition and its accompanying book is a nod to the historic Congo Square adjacent to the French Quarter in New Orleans, where African American slaves would gather to socialize, make music and dance in the 18th and 19th centuries. Like Congo Square itself, the exhibition is a metaphor for the process of people coming together from different areas of Africa to create a common spirit and culture. Both the book and the exhibition are dedicated to the musicians and dancers who gathered in Congo Square, and to the artists (most whose names were not recorded) whose artworks are featured in both the exhibition and the book.
The exhibition will be marked by the publication of a 376‐page book about NOMA’s collection of African art, produced by the New Orleans Museum of Art and published by Scala Publishers of London. Exhibition curator and catalogue editor William Fagaly has been curator of African art at NOMA for over four decades.