Last week, our first grade classes took a walking field trip to the Savannah African Art Museum. After assembling in one of the rooms, the students listened to African folklore stories that related to the sculptures and artifacts on display. In this photo below, the students are hearing the story of the warrior princess displayed on horseback.
The Savannah African Art Museum aims to provide an engaging experience and to start conversations about the power, diversity, and spirituality of African Art to all audiences. It has a large collection of 19th and 20th century objects from West and Central Africa. The art showcases a range of ceremonial and spiritual objects made from ceramics, metal, and wood. These diverse and powerful objects represent 22 countries and over 130 individual cultures and ethnic groups.
The museum continues to actively collect new objects, and does so in a way that benefits the communities in Africa from which each piece of art is acquired. By working with two West African born United States citizens, they negotiate with individual communities and ethnic groups in Africa to obtain objects on a commissioned rate. This allows the money used to purchase the objects to return to their respective native communities.
The students truly enjoyed their visit. They listened attentively and asked many welcomed and relevant questions. For example, with the costume display below, our students asked questions that allowed us to learn that the cowry shells used as decoration were considered to be very rare and valuable. The shells were used mainly by royalty, as in these costumes photographed,which represent the king, queen, and king's brtother. Through our students' questions, we also learned that this particular ethnic group that made these costumes valued order and organization, which is why we see geometric patterns used in their costume design.
Thank you Savannah African Art Museum for providing such an engaging visit for our first graders!