For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2006

The Art of the Congo: Selections from the Helmut F. Stern Gift

October 1, 2005–May 21, 2006

Standing figure
Songye culture
Bekalebwe, ca. 1890
Wood, copper, metal tacks, snakeskin, fiber, cloth
Gift of Helmut Stern

Early this year, long-time UMMA benefactor Helmut F. Stern donated his extraordinary collection of African art to the Museum. Noted for its outstanding objects from West African cultures, with a primary focus on the art of the Congo, the collection has been regarded by many experts as one of the deepest collections of Congolese art in the United States. Portions of the collection will be highlighted in the expanded Museum facility, scheduled to open in 2008, but in the meantime, visitors can sample a selection of approximately twenty pieces from this remarkable ninety-piece gift.

Widely studied and published, the Stern gift was the focus of a major exhibition and accompanying catalogue at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1999 entitled Spirits Embodied: Art of the Congo—Selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection. The exhibition was co-curated by former UMMA Director Evan S. Maurer (who was then Director at Minneapolis) and Niangi Batuluski. In the 1980s, Dr. Maurer, a noted expert on African art, worked with Mr. Stern to assemble the collection, establishing its focus on the Congo region and acquiring works from dealers throughout the United States and Europe.