Mellon Diversifying the Field

Exploring Modern African Art

A Chrysler Museum of Art and
Hampton University Museum Partnership

The Harmon Foundation Modern African Art Collection

Most of the artworks in the exhibition, Sankofa: Constructing Modern African Art come from the Hampton University Museum’s Harmon Foundation Modern African Art collection. This collection was donated to the museum in 1967 by the Harmon Foundation, a New York-based organization that was well-known for supporting the careers of African American artists.

There are 544 artworks in this collection. Only 38 artworks (about 7% of the collection) are currently on view. On this page, you can read statistics on the collection and browse through the 544 artworks.


This collection has 358 works on paper, 100 paintings on canvas or board, and 86 3-dimensional objects.  The paintings are about half on canvas or burlap and half on some variety of board or panel support. Fifty-six of the objects are wood carvings, while the rest are made of metal, ceramic, gourd, ivory, stone, clay, fiber, or mixed media.

Country of Origin

There are 21 African countries represented in this collection. The majority of the pieces come from Nigeria and Ghana. Other countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa are also highly represented. Twenty-four pieces come from an unknown location since their artists are currently unidentified.

Artist in the Collection

A large portion of the collection (118 works) are student artworks, which come from several different schools (at least six) across Africa. There are also 32 “Harmon Craft Items”, which are mostly wood carvings and ceramics. In total, the collection has 59 individual artists, of which Emmanuel Owusu Dartey has the most artworks at seventy-six, followed by Akinola Lasekan, with sixty pieces. Both of these artists used a wide variety of media and sent their works to the Harmon Foundation in the hopes that Harmon would market their pieces to attract potential buyers.

Browse the 544 artworks in the collection