The African Origin of Civilization
The African Origin of Civilization
Explore 21 pairings of works from different African cultures and eras, providing a rare opportunity to appreciate the extraordinary creativity of the continent across five millennia, revealing unexpected parallels and contrasts.
The Met Museum
December 14, 2021 to March 31, 2023
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Exhibition details

The African Origin of Civilization will remain on view while The Met’s galleries of Sub-Saharan African Art are closed for the complete renovation of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. The re-envisioned wing is expected to reopen in 2024, and will feature three distinct suites of galleries for Sub-Saharan African Art, Ancient American Art, and Oceanic Art.

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Scholars today recognize Africa as the source of our common ancestry. But in 1974, Senegalese scholar and humanist Cheikh Anta Diop shocked and challenged historians by asserting the influence of ancient African civilizations in his groundbreaking book The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality. This exhibition pays homage to Diop by presenting masterpieces from the Museum’s collections from west and central Africa alongside art from ancient Egypt for the first time in The Met’s history.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Image: The Royal Acquaintances Memi and Sabu, ca. 2575–2465 B.C. Egyptian. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Seated Couple, 18th–early 19th century. Dogon artist: Mali. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.