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Posts by Zachary

Kongo figure at the Met Museum, New York

19 October 2015 by Zachary

Mangaaka Nkisi nkondi “power figure”), Kongo, Mayombe, Dem. Rep. Congo. About 1900. Gift of O Sonnerburg through A. Ridyard.

Mangaaka Nkisi nkondi “power figure”), Kongo, Mayombe, Dem. Rep. Congo. About 1900. Gift of O Sonnerburg through A. Ridyard.

Last month Mangaaka (, one of World Museum’s most impressive Kongo figures from Central Africa, joined 146 other Kongo-related exhibits in a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The ‘Kongo: Power and Majesty exhibition tells the story of Kongo history and creativity over 500 years. Mangaaka is displayed in the final hall of the exhibition, which includes a dramatic display of fourteen other magnificent Mangaaka figures borrowed from various institutions in Europe and the U.S.A.   Read more…

Atta Kwami fan shares her excitement about ‘Prints in Counterpoint’ exhibition!

11 May 2015 by Zachary

Liverpool Counterpoint 15. Copyright Atta Kwami.

Liverpool Counterpoint 15. Copyright Atta Kwami.

Our current exhibition ‘Prints in Counterpoint‘ has been popular with visitors to our World Cultures gallery, where it is showing in the introductory area of the Africa section of the gallery at World Museum until October.  Read more…

New acquisition: a ‘Basaon’ oracle set from Senegal

4 February 2015 by Zachary

Owen Burnham demonstrating how the Basaon oracle is used.

Owen Burnham demonstrating how the Basaon oracle is used.

It is not often that I get offered a really well documented object as a donation to the World Museum’s African collection. Last month I was pleased to accept a unique addition to the collection consisting of a rare divination set, or oracle, from Senegal in West Africa. The oracle, called a Basaon, is used by the Balanta Kanja people of the Casamance region in Southern Senegal and is one of very few remaining oracles of its type.  Read more…

Subtle beasts

7 November 2014 by Zachary

Bakongo Chief's staff collected by A. Ridyard in 1895. WML

Bakongo Chief’s staff collected by A. Ridyard in 1895. WML

Snakes hold a universal fascination, so it is not surprising that our new ‘Sssnakes Alive‘ exhibition at World Museum is drawing large audiences. We all know that some snake species are highly venomous, but people’s fascination with snakes cannot be explained by the fear factor alone.  Read more…

Drawing inspiration from the museum stores

21 August 2014 by Zachary

Atta Kwami sketching African artefacts in the museum store

Atta Kwami sketching African artefacts in the museum store. Image courtesy Pamela Clarkson.

Not all museum projects are part of a long-term plan. Some come about by chance and it was through a stroke of good luck that I was at World Museum when the Ghanaian artist and curator Atta Kwami paid a visit to the African displays in our World Cultures gallery a few months ago. On that occasion I was able to meet Atta over a coffee in the museum café to discuss his current work.  Read more…

Reconnecting with the ancestors at World Museum

30 June 2014 by Zachary

Patrice and Iva

Patrice and Iva in World Cultures Gallery with a portrait of their grandfather and great grandfather.

As curator of the African collections at World Museum I often take groups of visitors round our World Cultures Gallery. I also take individuals and smaller groups, with special interests, behind the scenes to show them our stored collections. Many are students or scholars involved in special research projects, and although they often get excited about what they find in our collections, their interests are mostly intellectual and aesthetic. But recently I had a visit that was rather different because it was from cousins Patrice Wellesley Cole and Iva Johnson.

Read more…

Magic at the museum

22 January 2014 by Zachary

Piece of stone

Irish type stone axe head (or ‘celt’) found in Parliament Fields, Toxteth Park, in 1866. This is probably the stone axe used to cure the Irish lad mentioned in the 1897 report.

World Museum is currently hosting the ‘Magic Worlds’ exhibition. It’s a fun and child-centred look at the miraculous, fantastical, illusional and folkloric – including everything from magicians to fairytales. The exhibition got me thinking about the role that ‘magic’ has played in the museum collection that I curate – the African collection. It’s true to say that there is a darker side to the long relationship that museums have had with all things ‘magical’.  Read more…

Mandela: African necklace as act of defiance

16 December 2013 by Zachary

Beaded necklace

Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, freedom fighter and former President of South Africa, was returned to his ancestral home of Qunu yesterday for a burial ceremony that was broadcast all over the world.

When Nelson Mandela appeared for sentencing in the South African Supreme Court on charges of treason in 1962, he wore a traditional Xhosa beaded costume as an expression of contempt and resistance against the illegitimate proceedings against him. This was captured in a famous picture by Eli Weinberg.

Read more…

All the World is Now Richer

16 September 2013 by Zachary

steel sculpture of six standing figures

All the World is Now Richer

This month Sokari Douglas Camp is exhibiting her series of six powerful welded steel sculpture at St Georges Hall just a stone’s throw from World Museum Liverpool. The exhibition, titled  All the World is Now Richer, has been installed in the Dickens & Gladstone Gallery and is a fitting commemoration for the abolition of slavery. Sokari’s steel figures stand strong and erect. They are modelled on people she remembers but they were inspired by a well known quotation from William Prescott, a former slave in the United States:

“They will remember that we were sold but they won’t remember that we were strong. They will remember that we were bought but not that we were brave”.

Read more…

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