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One of Africa’s most powerful and enduring art forms
PHOENIX (October 8, 2019) – Beginning on November 8, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) will offer a glimpse into the dramatic and lively masquerade traditions of Central Africa at its newest exhibition Congo Masks and Music: Masterpieces from Central Africa, presented by U.S. Bank.
Curated by Manuel Jordán, PhD, MIM’s deputy director and chief curator, and Marc Felix, MIM board of directors member and international expert on African art, this exclusive exhibition features more than 150 stunning and rare masks, instruments, and costumes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) dating from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It also includes 12 mannequins in full, authentic outfits worn in ceremonies.
Masquerades are one of Central Africa’s most vibrant art forms and take place for a variety of reasons—to educate, entertain, demonstrate power, promote fertility, and connect humans with the spirit world. Masks represent powerful supernatural beings that come to life in human, animal, or hybridized form in masquerades. Through music and dance, they express different peoples’ worldviews, histories, religious beliefs, and morals. Constructed out of materials including wood, feathers, beads, fiber, and metal, the intricate masks on display in the exhibition showcase remarkable artistry and craftsmanship representative of dozens of Central African cultural groups.
Congo Masks and Music is the first exhibition to fully contextualize masks alongside musical instruments in their authentic performance settings. The collection features an array of musical instruments, including drums, bells, rattles, whistles, thumb pianos, xylophones, and harps, and many visually reference particular masks. Archival photography and video footage featuring masks and traditional music performed in ceremonies will allow guests to fully experience one of Africa’s richest traditions.
“I hope that when guests walk into the exhibition, they feel like they are stepping into the performance arena. Being in the presence of these full-body masqueraders, they’ll get a sense of how impressive this art form is,” says Jordán.
Highlights of the exhibition include:
MIM is grateful to U.S. Bank for their support of Congo Masks and Music as presenting sponsor. “We know that our communities are more connected when they have opportunities to experience culture and the arts. We hope Congo Masks and Music provides the residents of the Phoenix area a chance to come together and experience the creativity and enduring traditions that make up Central African masquerades,” says Joshua Shade, U.S. Bank Market President for Arizona.
Congo Masks and Music will be on display from November 8, 2019, through September 13, 2020. For information about opening weekend and other supplemental programming, visit exhibition.MIM.org.
$10 for special exhibition only
$7 when purchased with general museum admission
$4 for children/teens (ages 4–19)
Free for children (ages 3 and under)
In partnership with Africa Museum
Presenting sponsor U.S. Bank
Supported by Lorraine L. Calbow, Christine Lindley, Katherine & Randy Schneewind, Carolyn & John Friedman, Jan & David Wood, Angelo & Micheline Addona, Babette & Richard Burns, Mary Ann & John Mangels, Ann Phillips, Hao and Michelle Wang Foundation, Jeffrey Heimer & Linda Brock, and Paula & Arlie Sherman
The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix (corner of Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just south of Loop 101). For general museum information and a full schedule of events, visit MIM.org or call 480.478.6000.
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) enriches our world by collecting, preserving, and making accessible an astonishing variety of musical instruments and performance videos from every country in the world. MIM offers guests a welcoming and fun experience, incomparable interactive technology, dynamic programming, and exceptional musical performances. MIM fosters appreciation of the world’s diverse cultures by showing how we innovate, adapt, and learn from each other to create music—the language of the soul. To learn more about MIM, visit MIM.org.
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Raj Dayal, Media Relations Manager, MIM