An innovative exhibition that explores nontraditional methods of displaying, engaging with, and understanding African art—the first part of a long-term plan to reinstall all of the museum’s African art galleries. iAfrica: Connecting with Sub-Saharan Art, on view October 3, 2009 through April 4, 2010, shows 28 objects from the MIA’s collection, in a variety of different, experimental settings that challenge the viewer to see the works from different perspectives. Central to this approach is soliciting feedback from visitors, to help inform the broader African art reinstallation initiative.
iAfrica objects are organized into five perspectives, each identified by a question and coded by color. The visitor is invited to view the objects from these five perspectives, which address issues of aesthetics (“What makes it beautiful?”), ethnography (“How was it used?”), sensoriality (“How does it feel, sound, smell?”), history (“How old is it?”), and provenance (“How did it get here?”).
The app incorporates detailed information about the objects in the exhibition, following the curatorial themes of the exhibition. It also incorporates a digital lamellophone (a kind of thumb piano), providing a virtual opportunity to “play” one of the objects in the exhibition. To support the central process of gathering user feedback about the exhibition, the app will also link to the online survey the museum is conducting.