MoAD Exhibitions

Overview

A strong commitment to excellence, authenticity and quality in our exhibitions and programs are the hallmarks of MoAD’s institutional values and program goals.

Coupling engaging programs with unique forms of service and program delivery using technology and other means provide visitors with immersive experiences through their journey of discovery of the global African Diaspora. MoAD uses traditional and innovative delivery methods — computer, multi-media images, projection screens, “talking walls,” interactive tables, programmed lighting and music, and other sensory stimuli — in presenting and examining the art, culture and history of the African Diaspora and the communities of people of African descent worldwide.

Changing Exhibitions

A rotating schedule of themed-based touring and in-house generated exhibitions are presented every three to five months featuring art works and artifacts borrowed from the collections of local, national and international museums and private collections. The onsite exhibitions are organized by staff and by curators and scholars in the field. Our exhibition program focuses on Africa, the African American experience and the African Diaspora, described broadly as places where people of African descent created communities in the Caribbean, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Europe, the United States, among other locations, many based on the social and cultural beliefs and practices brought from Africa as a result of the African Slave Trade.

Our exhibitions offer multiple viewpoints on African cultures, pre-and post the Slave Trade; examining the beliefs, traditions, practices, and customs that defined African life in traditional societies, as well the ways they were adapted and re-invented through necessity and creativity to meet the circumstances of life in the New World and across the African Diaspora. Exhibitions also feature the work of local, national and international artists of African descent through solo and group exhibitions that demonstrate the variety of approaches, subject matter, themes, medium and techniques being used in their exploration of aesthetic as well as broader socio-economic and political issues that impact their life, art and art making.

Permanent Exhibitions

The permanent exhibitions blend art and innovative technology with the African tradition of storytelling. Visitors of all ages can explore cultural traditions in an immersive, interactive environment. Organized both geographically and thematically, the exhibits are designed to tell the story of the origins, migration, adaptation and transformation of the cultures and cultural beliefs and practices of African descendants through seven displays: The Origins of the African Diaspora; Celebrations: Ritual and Ceremony; Music of the Diaspora; Culinary Traditions; Adornment; Slavery Passages; and the Freedom Theater.

The Origins of the African Diaspora

A kinetic map of the world visually informs the visitor about human origins in Africa through chronologic and geographic illustrations. Four monitors imbedded within the map simultaneously display events such as when tools were first used, original bead ornamentation, cave art, culinary traditions, the first astronomical observatory and messages that human life originated in Africa and gradually traveled to the rest of the world. As the video loop continues the final montage shows people from across the Diaspora in contemporary settings.

Celebrations: Ritual and Ceremony

Is a circular space  on which projected visual images, large and small, tell a story in motion, overlapping each other sequentially and traveling along 180 degrees of the circle. A video program of 5 to 8 minutes in length explores and celebrates the multiplicity of African Diaspora traditions and consciousness.   Through images, sounds and personal recollections, the exhibit evokes a sense of the richness of Black cultural identity. Visitors are immediately enveloped in an experience that engages the senses akin to the feeling of suddenly wandering into a street fair around an unfamiliar corner.

Adornment

The exhibit contains three lenticular panel stems mounted at varying depths. Within the panels three mirrors are placed throughout various points of the figures and three LCD monitors. Each monitor represents the head of a male, female, and child. Each head shows photos and live-action footage of heads of people from various cultures, with one transitioning

Music of the Diaspora

Consists of four listening stations with touch screen monitors and directional speakers. Each station represents one of the following thematic categories: Music from Africa (tribal, traditional, contemporary); African-Influenced Music in the United States (spirituals –17th thru 20th centuries; gospel and hymns; ragtime/blues/jazz – instrumental & vocal; progressive/bebop/cool/avant guard/fusion-instrumental & vocal; Hip hop/rap.); African Influenced Music in South America and the Caribbean; and African Influenced Music Composers. Each station contains up to five short samples of these different music styles and an interactive component which allows visitors to “jam” using instruments from all styles. A visual component includes photos and short video clips.

Culinary Traditions

There are 3 interactive stations for this exhibit. Each station consists of a flat screen monitor representing one of the following themes – Celebrating Food Traditions; Food Movements & Adaptations; Food and Community. Beneath the flat screen is a fabricated table with buttons visitors push to activate the images on the flat screen monitor. As the image changes the featured food appears along with a short text description of the Diaspora story of the dish. Each image tells the story of both the origin and modern method or production and consumption as well as how it is used throughout the African Diaspora.

Slavery Passages

This darkened contemplative space, beckons visitors to sit and reflect on the first person accounts of enslaved African men and women. These personal stories of enduring courage come from the United States, the West Indies, South America, and Sudan, spanning three continents and three centuries. Each narrative is introduced by renowned poet and artist Maya Angelou, providing biographical information and underscored with music from the period and the country or origin of the particular narrative. These first voice narratives of experiences of slavery will engage the imagination of the listener.

Freedom Theater

Our intimate theatre currently features fifteen powerful stories of freedom (from eight minutes to two hours) including: Toussaint: The Heartbeat of Freedom focuses on the Haitian Revolution; Howard Thurman: The Spirit of the Movement focuses on the role of Dr. Thurman in the Civil Rights Movement, and Amandla! – Nelson Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid Movement. This multimedia experience actively engages the visitor in stories of resistance, celebration and the struggle for freedom throughout the African Diaspora.