Year-Long 'Imagine Africa' Public Project Begins Sept. 18 at Penn Museum

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Media Contact:Pam Kosty | pkosty@upenn.edu | (215) 898-4045August 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA—How do you imagine Africa? Do you see it as the home of powerful nations? Do you think of intricately carved masks or fine art? Maybe you're interested in the peoples living in Africa today.

Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum, a twelve-month project investigating community perspectives, launches Sunday, September 18.

Drawing upon its extraordinary African collection, the Penn Museum will present more than 50 objects framed around eight broad topics. Through a variety of engagement opportunities, visitors will be asked to provide feedback on the objects and content they see, and to discuss what would make an engaging exhibition-from their point of view. Throughout the year, the Museum will engage-through a gallery installation, diverse public programming, and a rich website- in discussions with the regional community, as it begins long-range plans to re-envision its African gallery for a 21st century audience.

Collaborations with local community organizations will help produce a year of Africa-inspired public events. In addition, a range of interactive programs at area schools and community centers are part of the initiative.

Penn Museum was among the first American museums to begin collecting African art and artifacts; the Museum has about 20,000 objects in its African collection in addition to 42,000 ancient artifacts in the Egyptian collection. Most African collection objects were obtained between 1891 and 1930, hail from nearly every major cultural area of the African continent, and provide an unparalleled regional resource.

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