National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is a museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Located on the National Mall and specializes in African art and culture. It was founded in 1964 as a private museum and in August 1979 was officially part of the Smithsonian Institution.

The main entrance is from the garden of the Smithsonian Castle and Independence Avenue. As the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is the National Museum of African Art an underground museum. The museum is often confused with the Museum for African Art in New York City.


The roots of the museum come from a bargain in the early 1960s. For $ 15 Warren M. Robbins acquired in Hamburg a Yoruba carving. A year later, Robbins acquired an additional 32 pieces of African art. On his return to the U.S. he brought his collection and placed them in his apartment in Washington, DC from. According to a newspaper report on his collection appeared first visitor at his door and the collection were invited in to visit.

In 1963, Robbins bought a house ( 316-18 A Street Northeast ). The house was from 1871 to 1877 the residence of the Abolitisten Frederick Douglass. The museum was when it opened in 1964, the first museum in the United States, which dealt exclusively with African art. The Frederick Douglass Institute of Negro Arts and History was founded in 1966. In the following years, Robbins brought money on buying the other half of the Douglass House and called it Museum of African Art As his collection grew, he bought neighboring houses, to his museum from 9 townhouses, 16 garages and 2 outbuildings consisted.

In 1979, Congress approved the acquisition of the capacity of the collection by the Smithsonian Institution. Robbins was the first director of the museum. A post he held until 1983, he was appointed Founding Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar Smithsonian and replaced as director by Sylvia H. Williams. The museum was moved in 1987 from its location on Capitol Hill to the National Mall and renamed the National Museum of African Art.