The big news in The Blanton Museum Shop is how excited the staff is in preparation for El Anatsui: When I last Wrote to You about Africa, the museum’s eagerly anticipated fall exhibition. We searched for months and have found all kinds of fun and collectible African items, many from Ghana and Nigeria, where the artist resides. I was fortunate to travel to Africa back in the 1990s with Jerome Vogel, special advisor to the president of the Museum for African Art in New York City, the organizers of this exhibition. He has been helpful in finding resources for great merchandise to offer during the run of the show in Austin.
The majority of the items are from West Africa—in and around the Ghanaian and Nigerian area —but some of the recycled/repurposed items are from other parts of the continent.
Inspired by El Anatsui’s use of found materials, we will feature models of saxophones, guitars, bicycles, Vespa’s and animals all made from cans and wrappers scavenged in Africa.
We will also have hand-made items: musical instruments, such as juju seed shakers and bottle cap tambourines; one-of-a-kind hand-woven Kente cloth textiles, a type of silk and cotton fabric unique to the Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast; and hand-woven scarves, placemats, and table runners for your home. One of our favorite galleries in Soho (NYC) will be sending a selection of antique, one-of-a kind jewelry pieces. And, we will have fun, colorful jewelry from our friends at Tribal Arts.
The exhibition catalogue is one of the most beautiful we have ever carried. Produced by the Museum for African Art, it is a handsome 170-page hardbound book with full color images throughout. It retails for $50 or $45 for Blanton Museum members.
All of this excitement is building towards our “African Market Show” during the first weekend of December. Members will receive a double discount (20%) off all their purchases from Friday, December 2 through Sunday, December 11. We will have African vendors available with an assortment of market items, including all the items listed here plus many more!
Our museum shop always has a wonderful selection of design and gift items, jewelry and toys, but it is especially fun to plan for a special exhibition such as this. This one has been especially enjoyable because of the variety of affordable items made in Africa that are truly representative of indigenous crafts.
We can’t wait until the opening on September 25 so we can share all of these unique items! From our perspective, it’s always interesting to see what appeals to our visitors and what sells first. And, we love sharing that feedback with the craftspeople who make these wonderful items.