Breanna Moore: A Commission for the New Africa Galleries
- Penn Museum
- Office of the Provost, Penn Museum
Visiting Artists Grant
The Penn Museum brought the work of Philadelphia-based contemporary artist and fashion designer Breanna Moore into the reimagining and reinstallation of its signature Africa Galleries which opened in November 2019. The artist’s work is a key highlight of the new Africa Galleries, providing visual dialogue between historic and contemporary objects. Moore designed a gown in response to the carved ivories from Nigeria, Zaire, Belgian Congo, and others in the Museum’s collection as well as in response to themes and content presented in our re-envisioned Africa Galleries. Her work was designed collaboratively with Ghanaian women, and hand-made in Ghana, by Ghanaian seamstresses. The gown was presented in between one of the two entrances to the Galleries, and in the section of the exhibition focused on design.
2019 was a monumental year for the Penn Museum. With the reopening of their reimagined galleries and spaces, they aimed to engage audiences with their incredible collection in new ways. In the first three months the Africa Galleries were open to the public, more than 45,000 visitors explored the new Penn Museum. They included school children, scholars of the African Diaspora, college students, families, and many more visitors who saw these objects representing the richness and diversity of African material culture in a setting that sparks curiosity and wonder. The Africa Galleries anchor their K–12 and public programs that invite visitors to engage with the history and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. In the first three months the galleries were open, more than 3,000 visitors joined public tours and educational programs focused specifically on the Africa Galleries. The galleries are also used for their Global Guides tour program, which empowers immigrants and refugees to give tours of their galleries. These tours combine personal experiences and stories to interpret objects for audiences. In June when the Penn Museum was closed to the public, but they still where able to host a virtual program with Breanna Moore for the public to learn more about her commission.