Menu & Search
While the Museum is Closed: Our Top Seven List of Online Museums, Galleries, Tours and Videos for your Art Fix by Jeff Nesler

While the Museum is Closed: Our Top Seven List of Online Museums, Galleries, Tours and Videos for your Art Fix by Jeff Nesler

We’ve seen many social posts offering top ten lists of virtual museum tours, a constructive thing to do while you’re social distancing at home—but we thought, what about Sugarcane’s special niche—African diaspora art?  Sugarcane is here to represent, and we’ve got you covered.  While we haven’t found any immersive tours requiring VR glasses, the Sugarcane team nevertheless has scoured the internet to provide some great finds.  Not only online displays of fascinating art–but some informative art documentary and event videos, and some backgrounder articles as well.  This list is more than a top seven—it’s a top seven with sub-categories that pays tribute to great talent… So take a breather, relax and give yourself some well-deserved mental health breaks to see the best of the best.

GOOGLE ARTS AND CULTURE: https://artsandculture.google.com
Three African art museums are featured on Google’s Arts & Culture platform:

Museum of African American Art (MAAA) Los Angeles
https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-museum-of-african-american-art 

Founded in 1976 by Dr. Samella Lewis, herself a respected artist and art historian, along with academic, artistic, business, and community leaders, the Museum of African American Art holds the Palmer C. Hayden Collection, including the John Henry Series, featuring the work from leading Harlem Renaissance artists. 

African Ceremonies, Friday Harbor, Wash.
https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/african-ceremonies

Two photographers, American-born Carol Beckwith and Australian Angela Fisher, who met in Kenya, collaborated on photography spanning 150 African cultures, as they traveled over 270,000 miles and 40 countries across the African continent.

Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa
https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-evidence-of-things-not-seen-photography-and-resistance-%C2%A0/oAJScEI-O01qKQ

The Johannesburg Art Gallery includes three interactive works of contemporary art including two we’d like to focus on, titled The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Photography and Resistance a photography exhibit (link above) with works by resistance artists Ernest Cole, Jabulani Sam Nhlengethwa and Ranjith Kally (based on James Baldwin’s book, The Evidence of Things Not Seen).

The second exhibit, The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Performing gendered and queer identities, is exclusive to the JAG collection, and its works are specifically created by artists of color exploring the nature of identity:  https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-evidence-of-things-not-seen-performing-gendered-and-queer-identities%C2%A0/8QKCv6UR8JX_Iw 

Above: James Baldwin On Galata Bridge 1966, Istanbul on the Golden Horn
A black-and-white photograph of James Baldwin standing on the Galata Bridge. Behind him, a mosque and some birds in flight.
Photo by
Pakay, Sedat, Turkish, 1945 – 2016

SMITHSONIAN: National Museum of African American History and Culture

WASHINGTON, DC—On Sept 24, 2016, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened.  Founding Director Lonnie Bunch III has done a tremendous job amassing a comprehensive collection covering civil rights, clothing and dress, communities, family, education, music, photography and more.  The museum’s physical site, prominently across from the Washington National Monument, features building elements such as exterior bronze-treated aluminum work to honor the brass work of slave and free craftsmen of the American South; a glass oculus—site of a former slave market; and on display inside, historical items, including a Tuskegee Airmen aircraft.

EXPLORE THE COLLECTION: https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/collection 

INTERACTIVE BUILDING TOUR: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/national-museum-african-american-history-and-culture-interactive-museum-tour/ 

PBS OVERVIEW OF OPENING:  Includes interview with Lonnie Bunch.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oebr-DKTJxs&t=452s

OPENING CEREMONY:  Spoiler alert!  Be taken back to the grandeur of the museum’s opening ceremony (1 hour 58 minutes) with a star-studded roster of presenters and performances (we’re not revealing all) including Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, Elijah Cummings, Patti Labelle and President Barack Obama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZMuu5fi4Ic&t=114s 

ARTICLE: How National Museum of African American History Came to Be: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/definitive-story-national-museum-african-american-history-culture-came-be-180960125/

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART: https://africa.si.edu/exhibits/view.html

The Smithsonian also features an immense collection that you can tour online in its National Museum of African Art:  the ongoing exhibits (African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting; Walt Disney-Tishman African Art; and Ceramics at the National Museum of African Art)  These are toward the bottom of the page, with the top showing exhibits dated 2013-14.  

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

CHICAGO—There are two online galleries of note at the Art Institute.  Here they are in our order of preference:
Malangatana: https://www.artic.edu/exhibitions/9169/malangatana-mozambique-modern Painter, poet, and national hero Malangatana Ngwenya (1936–2011)—known by the mononym Malangatana—a pioneer of African art, was born in Mozambique and attended the Industrial School and Art Club of Mozambique in the late 1950s. His first paintings demonstrate a European influence, and as Mozambique sought independence from Portugal, which it achieved in 1975, Malangatana’s work evolved to address social and political themes.  His experimentation and painting echoed the world around him, as he became an influencer in the emergence of modern African art.  Not a virtual tour, but a scroll through to see the museum’s display of his key works.

Gallery of African Art: https://www.artic.edu/exhibitions/9208/a-new-view-of-african-art  The reinstalled Gallery of African Art (Gallery 137), displays sculpture, masks, personal adornments and more, mostly from the mid-19th early 20th Century in the form of a quick slide show.  A related article (in the right navigation) features more detail description about the some of the items you’re seeing.

Above: The Poet as a Child (O bebé poeta), 1963Malangatana Ngwenya. Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd H. Ellis Jr. in memory of Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane (OC 1953), 2013.37

Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM):  

MIAMI — While PAMM is closed, you still can experience art and community from home.  View, like and subscribe to PAMM’s Virtual Tours on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJcRhhv0bpKyWDFN2knyR2wfFxYZHOxMv 

And, here is their main exhibition site:  https://www.pamm.org/exhibitions 

Kehinde Wiley at Brooklyn Museum:  Brooklyn Museum has long been an exhibitor of Black art.  Born in Los Angeles, Kehinde Wiley received his MFA at Yale University and in 2015 was featured at an exhibition of his work that is remembered to this day.  We recommend this short (under four minutes) documentary:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHx4lFPqPiI and his site.

KEHINDE WILEY WEBSITE: https://kehindewiley.com/works/  Tour his work here.

Above: Installation view: Meleko Mokgosi: Your Trip to AfricaPérez Art Museum Miami, 2020-21. 
© Meleko Mokgosi. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: Oriol Tarridas

ARTISTS WE’VE RECENTLY FEATURED:

Delita Martin (Volume 1 Issue 4)–galleries on her website, amazing work to scroll and navigate through… https://blackboxpressstudio.com/recent-works-20172019

Bisa Butler (Volume 1 Issue 4)–on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/bisabutlerfineart/photos/?ref=page_internal check out her amazing work, click on them directly for the artist’s own descriptions.

Frank Bowling (Volume 1 Issue 4) –on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD5Ft2t7QBI
(3 minute 30 second documentary, 2012)
Bowling Works for Sale: https://www.artsy.net/artist/frank-bowling

Morel Doucet (Volume 2 Issue 1): https://www.moreldoucet.com/ 

Idris Habib (Volume 2 Issue 1): https://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/678878
As of this writing, 75 of his works are listed for sale.

CULTURAL HERITAGE ART GALLERY

ARUSHA, TANZANIA—Located on the outskirts of Arusha, Tanzania, The Cultural Heritage Art Gallery may have one of the largest known collections of African art in the world:
https://historyview.org/library/african-cultural-heritage-art-gallery/
(This 3D virtual tour is impressive especially if you can navigate it, but we found the navigation challenging (which is why we’re listing it last).  If you can master the nav, you will be able to lose yourself in time touring both the outside and each of the four floors in 3D.
NOTE: If you use ad blockers, you’ll need to make an exception for historyview.org to take this tour).

CULTURAL HERITAGE ART GALLERY WEBSITE: http://culturalheritage.co.tz/
You can find work for sale here.