Of the 60 pieces on display, the oldest are an intricately carved ivory hunting horn from Sierra Leone, dating from around 1492 to 1516, in the style of the Sapi Portuguese people; an ivory saltcellar made by the Edo people of Nigeria in the 16th century; and an ivory armlet made in the 16th centurypossibly for the king of Owu, Nigeriawith interlocking and free-moving parts so technically advanced as to be rarely equaled in world arts. Most of the other exhibits date from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Paul and Ruth Tishman began collecting African art in the 1960s. Their collection was bought by Disney Enterprises and is seldom publicly displayed. The Explorers Hall exhibit marks the first time so many objects from the Walt Disney-Tishman Collection have been shown since an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1981.
Philippe de Montebello, then director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said the collection was one of the finest in private hands.
Artist as Explorer is part of a series of exhibits and live programs about Africa taking place at National Geographic Society headquarters this fall in conjunction with a major eight-part National Geographic Television series, Africa, premiering on PBS September 9, 2001.
The Society has also published Africa, by John Reader, a companion book to the series (available in our store).