The Dallas Museum of Art acquired its first African object in 1969, but began exhibiting African art as early as 1954, with the exhibition “African, Oceanic, and Primitive Artifacts.” In 1962, at the urging of Margaret McDermott, a Dallas art collector, the museum hosted a show called “The Arts of Man.” Participating in midcentury utopian efforts at cross-cultural understanding through the arts, “The Arts of Man” united a range of objects from global cultures. According to Roslyn Adele Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and the Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, this exhibition was a crucial moment for the origin of Dallas's interest in African art. McDermott and her husband eventually acquired a collection of African sculpture from Clark and Francis Stillman, a couple...

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