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African Studies Takes Center Stage at the DIA

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Museum’s First African Art Recognition Award Given This Month

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will recognize and encourage scholarship in the area of African Art by awarding the first ever African Art Recognition Award this month. This award will be presented annually to honor the contributions of scholars, artists and collectors in the field of African Art.  This year’s award will be given on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.

“The work of scholars like Dr. Eyo is essential to our understanding and presentation of African Art,” said Graham W. J. Beal. “By recognizing Dr. Eyo and other in the field, we hope to encourage continues scholarship, which will enrich our understanding and allow us to present thoughtful and comprehensive interpretations of African and its art. Exciting new work is being done in this field, and the DIA intends to recognize it.”

In selecting Eyo, the FAAAA considered his fine record of teaching, research and publications, including some major museum exhibitions that have greatly enriched the scholarship and promoted African art around the world. Eyo, who was formerly director of the Nigerian Department of Antiquities, recently retired as professor of African art history at the University of Maryland, College Park. The work Beal refers to is Eyo’s recent groundbreaking discoveries in Nigeria. His excavations in the city of Calabari, an important trading city on Nigeria’s Atlantic coast, have yielded a unique series of terracotta figurines, ceramic vessels, and headrests not found anywhere else in the West African region. These fascinating objects appear to be linked to the great migration of the Bantu peoples from their ancestral home in the Cameroon. Today the Bantu constitute the dominant populations of central, eastern and southern African but not West Africa. Eyo’s findings provide definitive evidence that some Bantu-speakers migrated westward, perhaps as far as the modern nations of Ghana and Mali. These discoveries will cause the DIA and other museums and collectors to look at their African art collections in a new way.

Following the award ceremony, Eyo will speak about his archaeological discoveries in Nigeria in a lecture titled “New Light on the Art History of West Africa: The Evidence of the Spade.” The ceremony and lecture are free with museum admission.

Hours and Admission

Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is a donation. We recommend $6 for adults and $3 for children. DIA members are admitted free. For membership information call 313-833-7971.

Programs are made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

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The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range and depth.

The DIA is currently undergoing a major renovation, scheduled for completion in late 2007. The museum remains open with a dynamic schedule of programs and activities for all ages. Visitors can enjoy some of the DIA’s “greatest hits” while the museum prepares for an entirely new installation when renovations are completed.