Art history has long emphasized the glories of the Byzantine Empire (circa 330–1453), but less known are the profound artistic contributions of North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and other powerful African kingdoms whose pivotal interactions with Byzantium had a lasting impact on the Mediterranean world. Bringing together a range of masterworks—from mosaic, sculpture, pottery, and metalwork to luxury objects, paintings, and religious manuscripts—this exhibition recounts Africa’s central role in international networks of trade and cultural exchange. With artworks rarely or never before seen in public, Africa & Byzantium sheds new light on the staggering artistic achievements of medieval Africa. This long-overdue exhibition highlights how the continent contributed to the development of the premodern world and offers a more complete history of the vibrant multiethnic societies of north and east Africa that shaped the artistic, economic, and cultural life of Byzantium and beyond.
This exhibition is made possible by the Ford Foundation, The Giorgi Family Foundation, and Mary Jaharis.
This exhibition is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.
Additional support is provided by an Anonymous Foundation, The International Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Michel David-Weill Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and The Visiting Committee for the Department of Medieval Art & The Cloisters.
The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cleveland Museum of Art.
The catalogue is made possible by The Giorgi Family Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.
Additional support is provided by Nellie and Robert Gipson, the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom, and Wendy A. Stein and Bart Friedman.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.