I don't care where you are going or where you live, make a trip or a detour to see this. All will agree that this is a long way from the shotgun African gallery and the cramped quarters of the past for Pre-Columbian and Native American.
"African and Native American art at the Art Institute of Chicago gets a new home, starting Friday 3. Moved to the museum’s Morton Wing (formerly the contemporary art wing), the African Art and Indian Art of the Americas galleries have more than triple the space of their previous gallery. This allowed curators Kathleen Bickford Berzock and Richard Townsend to display dozens of never-before-exhibited works and make a few unusual curatorial choices. The curators worked closely with architect Kulapat Yantrasast, from Los Angeles–based firm wHY, who imbued the space with a clean, light and warm aesthetic that shows off dark-toned art objects, including masks, pottery, textiles and beadwork. Here’s what not to miss.
• A series of architectural elements, nicknamed gates, separates the larger galleries into smaller, more intimate areas—allowing a fluid movement of visitors. Each gate is composed of a simple wood archway and flanked by transparent display cases.
• Ci wara means farming animal in the language of Mali’s Bamana people. These headdresses—icons of the Art Institute—depict a pair of mythical ci wara: half antelope and half anteater.
• Curators chose to display these large mid-19th- to early-20th-century Baga headdresses from Guinea on a low-lying platform, bringing them closer to visitors. Matching costumes were reconstructed for the exhibition, a novel approach for the museum, which normally stresses authenticity over replication.
• Zulu artist Ntzinyanga Qwabe, born in South Africa in 1900, created wood relief carvings of people and animals. They reflect a transition between traditional and modern African art in the mid-20th century.
• In Indian Art of the Americas, Townsend strived to present a broad range of material from the entire Western Hemisphere, including works from native North America, Mesoamerica (think Maya and Aztec) and ancient Peru.
• Departing from traditional art exhibitions devoted to native cultures, the curators installed videos that place the objects in their cultural context. Ceremonial masks, after all, weren’t intended to be displayed inside glass cases. The videos present art objects and traditional ceremonial dances.
• The American Southwest section of the exhibition features dozens of pots, including this 1,000-year-old ancestral puebloan storage jar. In a bold move, curators displayed ancient finds next to more contemporary works, representing an unbroken tradition spanning centuries.
• The North American section features an extensive collection of native baskets, like this 1910 Maidu storage basket. Amazingly, many of these baskets held water, reflecting the basket makers’ mastery of this art form.
• Ah Maxam, this Mayan vase’s creator, lived around A.D. 750 in the Maya city of Naranjo. He signed the vase, which features glyphic writing and a water-lily motif symbolizing the cycle of birth, death and renewal.
• During the construction of Mexico City’s subway, workers stumbled upon this stone monument. It commemorates the coronation of the ill-fated Aztec emperor Moctezuma II in the year 1503." http://timeoutchicago.com/things-to-do/this-week-in-chicago/14780683/african-art-and-indian-art-of-the-americas