West African Masks at the Davis

West African Masks at the Davis

Welcome to the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. On this tour, we invite you to look closely at five of the West African masks in our collection.

On the map in front of you, you can see the general areas associated with some of the thousands of ethnic groups and cultures in Africa. On this tour, you will see masks from the Mende, Bete, Wee, Bamana, Baule, and Yoruba cultures.

In our galleries, you have the opportunity to study these masks closely, but we also want our visitors to understand how they were first exhibited. The artists who made these masks expected them to be seen in dance. A mask is just one part of a masquerade that also encompassed a costume, a dancer, musicians, musical instruments, and an audience. This tour invites you to see the masks on view at the Davis from new perspectives.

Please begin in front of the map of Africa in the Mary Tebbetts Wolfe Gallery on L2. The objects featured in this tour should be viewed in order. There are five stops in total.

This tour was created by Julia Bregeron, Liliane Pingoud Soriano ’49 Curatorial Fellow, and Amanda Gilvin, Assistant Curator.