Available on JSTOR at: doi.org/10.2307/3337022
In 1989 the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., acquired ninety-two utilitarian objects from British colonial collections. This acquisition, generously funded by the James Smithson Society of the Smithsonian National Associates, forms the core of “The Art of the Personal Object,” a permanent exhibition that opened at the museum on September 25, 1991. The exhibition comprises more than one hundred objects, principally from eastern and southern Africa, selected by Chief Curator Philip L. Ravenhill from the initial acquisition and subsequent gifts and purchases. “African Arts” is pleased to reprint the essay by Ravenhill that appears in the booklet published in conjunction with the exhibition. (References to illustrations have been deleted here.) “The Art of the Personal Object” (National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., in association with the University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1991; $9.95 softcover) is the first in the museum's Exploring African Art series, which will highlight works of art from the permanent collection.