The Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts, received a gift of more than 340 pieces of African art from doctors Carolyn and Eli Newberger. Representing various cultures of West Africa, the collection includes decorative, religious, and utilitarian objects from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Newbergers began collecting in 1967, when they volunteered for the Peace Corps and lived with their infant daughter in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. They soon became friends with the director of the national museum there, Toumani Triandé. Under Triandé’s guidance, they collected authentic West African village artifacts. Over time they acquired works created by more than fifteen cultures, including the Ashanti, Bamana, Baule, Bobo, Dogon, Igbo, Mossi, Peul, Senufo, and Yoruba people.
“This generous gift greatly expands WCMA’s collection of African art and will be incredibly valuable not only in teaching but also in showing art that is politically, socially, and culturally relevant,” the class of 1956 director Christina Olsen said. “ We are grateful to Carolyn and Eli for their vision and generosity.”