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The Art of African Metalwork

Monday 18 February, 2019

The Art of African Metalwork, a new display exploring how brass and copper were used as objects of exchange, status and power in Africa will open on Friday 22 February at the National Museum of Scotland.

The Art of African Metalwork, a new display exploring how brass and copper were used as objects of exchange, status and power in Africa will open on Friday 22 February at the National Museum of Scotland.

The creation and trade of elaborate, decorated metalwork has been widespread across West and Central Africa for centuries. Objects on display range from 19th and early 20th century currency to ceremonial weaponry and items used for personal adornment. The objects were part of a complex network of local, European and inter-continental trade.

Beaten, burnished, coiled or cast, brass and copper was used for production of significant objects of cultural value produced by highly skilled metalworkers. Highlights include cast brass weights used in the Ghanaian gold trade. Each weight was individually modelled from a wide range of subjects including miniature figures, animals and geometric forms. Also featured is a display of prestigious Congolese ceremonial blades which includes an example of a sickle knife with brass blade and handle in the distinctive Mangbetu court style.

Dr Sarah Worden, Senior Curator of African Collections at National Museums Scotland said:

“Created by highly skilled, specialist craftsmen, the intriguing objects on display in The Art of African Metalwork give us an insight into the complex role of brass and copper in Africa during the 19th and 20th centuries. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to display some fascinating pieces from our African collection.”

Further information on exhibition and images from: Katie McAllister, National Museums Scotland Press Office | k.mcallister@nms.ac.uk | 0131 247 4391

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.

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  1. The National Museum of Scotland is the most popular attraction in the country outside of London (source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions). The National Museum of Scotland was awarded ‘Gold’ Level Green Tourism Visitor Attraction status in 2016.

  1. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.

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