South African artist Gavin Jantjes' untitled painting, from African Cosmos 

National Museum of African Art

$16 Million raised

National Museum of African Art

Fostering Diversity in Art

The National Museum of African Art inspires conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of Africa’s arts and cultures worldwide. The museum is the only art museum in the United States that solely focuses on African art, and its collection is considered one of the premier assemblages of Africa’s arts in the world.

Through the Smithsonian Campaign, a Ford Foundation grant enabled the museum to pilot one of the first diversity initiatives at an art museum in the United States. With this funding, the museum incorporated diversity and inclusion principles internally and externally via staffing, paid internships, thematic exhibitions, education and public programs, and outreach to the African immigrant community in America.

The museum also partnered with the White House Council on Women and Girls and Smithsonian Enterprises to create a Museum Day Live! event nationwide designed to reach girls of color and inspire them to engage with museums in their communities.

The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center donated $1.8 million—the museum’s largest-ever gift—for a program series, Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa. Through this three-year gift, the museum explored the Swahili coast and Oman trade route, creating an online exhibition, a scholarly book, a teen graphic novel, an opera, a ballet and an award-winning documentary, among other public programs.

In addition, several donors contributed to the Johnetta Betsch Cole Fund for the Future, in honor of Cole, who retired as museum director in 2017. The fund supports mission-related activities, including educational and public programs.

National Museum of African Art
Leadership Message

Leadership Message

The other day as I was leaving the museum,I met a group of schoolchildren. I asked, “Are you enjoying your visit? How do you feel?” One student, an African American girl, said, “I feel proud.”

I do, too. We have great stories to tell about Africa that engage visitors of all ages and from all walks of life. This engagement begins with a great collection and the enchantment that outstanding works of art bring to our lives. The strength of the museum’s collection lies in its unmatched depth of exceptional works of African art, dating from ancient to contemporary times.

Through our collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach, we have expanded the parameters of African art history and presented to the public a rich diversity of artistic traditions from throughout the continent. Our exhibitions and programs emphasize Africa’s creative responses to global issues, underscoring how Africa is a part of our lives.

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2014, your gifts to the National Museum of African Art through the Smithsonian Campaign will help us forge ahead with our founding mission to foster cross-cultural dialogue through compelling programs and outstanding works of art that emphasize the creative contributions from the continent which, as the birthplace of humankind, is the heritage of all of us.

Thank you for your support.

  • Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole
    Director, National Museum of African Art
National Museum of African Art
Campaign Case

Expanding Research and Discovery

The museum’s collection has astonishing breadth, with more than 10,000 artworks from nearly every corner of Africa. It connects visitors to the beauty, power and diversity of the continent’s art, spanning ancient times to modern. Yet, the collection is not complete.

One of the museum’s top priorities is creating an acquisitions fund in order to purchase traditional to contemporary art from across the African continent and the diaspora. In addition, a robust acquisitions fund will allow the museum to pursue unforeseen opportunities in collecting African art.

Exhibitions and Programs
African Art fuses visual imagery with social purpose. The museum leads public discourse about race and culture and the importance of Africa to our universal heritage. We bring together artists, scholars and visitors to celebrate Africa’s contributions to civilization, through rotating exhibitions of our permanent collection and new work and thought-provoking programs.

A gift to the museum’s exhibitions will allow us to explore the enduring influence of African artists in more comprehensive ways. Investments in new programming will stir awareness and curiosity about self-determination and ingenuity.

Oral History Endowment
The museum creates special projects to reach a broader audience and highlight new scholarship about the continent. For example, Studio Africa introduces African culture to students in Washington, D.C., schools. Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa links the cultural heritage of these regions. An endowment for special initiatives gives us the means to produce other special projects that challenge and redefine our views of Africa and its cultural heritage.

National Museum of African Art

National Museum of African Art

is raising $15 million of the Smithsonian Campaign’s overall $1.5 billion goal.

Campaign Priorities


$2 Million

We seek a total endowment of $2 million. Gifts of $25,000 or more support the purchase of outstanding works of African art, which expand our collection and ensure that the museum retains its leadership role as a premier destination for the arts of Africa.

Exhibitions and Programs

$6 Million

We seek a total endowment of $6 million. Gifts of $50,000 or more support new exhibitions and programs, which highlight the diversity, complexity and global relevance of Africa and African art.

Special Initiatives Endowment

$2 Million

We seek a total endowment of $2 million. Gifts of $25,000 or more support special projects that underscore the museum’s role as a global resource on the arts and cultures of Africa and its diasporas.

National Museum of African Art

“We have to make sure that what is central to this museum endures, and let that which is new, innovative and even provocative emerge."



Lucia Riddle

Giving Can Inspire Future Generations

Lucia Riddle wants her contributions to the Smithsonian Campaign to play two roles at the National Museum of African Art: “We have to make sure that what is central to this museum endures,” she says, “and let that which is new,  innovative and even provocative emerge. I’m a businessperson. The money we put here now will help young people and others for generations to come.” Riddle, who is on the museum’s advisory board, was vice president for government relations for a global asset management firm and now operates her own business.

National Museum of African Art

Contact Us

National Museum of African Art Campaign Officers

National Museum of African Art Board

  • ​Asif M. Shaikh (Chair)
  • Rowland O. Abiodun
  • Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • Camille O. Cosby, EdD
  • Henry John Drewal
  • Anne Howard Tristani
  • Mustafa Jama
  • Maggie Johnson-Obaji
  • Marcella Jones
  • George Levert
  • J. Peter Pham
  • Honorable Anne Imelda Radice
  • Honorable Robin Sanders
  • Renee Stout
  • Christine M. Warnke, PhD
  • Stuart Bohart (Emeritus)
  • Timothy Bork (Emeritus)
  • Mr. Okwui Enwezor (Emeritus)
  • Mr. Wendell A. McCain (Emeritus)
  • Dr. Gwendolyn Mikell (Emeritus)
  • Adebayo Ogunlesi (Emeritus)
  • John Pemberton, III (Emeritus)
  • R. Lucia Riddle (Emeritus)
  • James H. Small, PhD (Emeritus)

National Museum of African Art

Total Goal:
$16 Million


$16 Million Raised

As of November 30, 2017

Help us spread the word by sharing this content in the following ways

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Google+
  • Email a Link