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Unknown Chewa artist, Elvis Mask for Nyau Society ca. 1977
Unknown Chewa artist, “Elvis” Mask for Nyau Society, ca. 1977

ELVIS MASK AT AFRICAN ART SHOW

Aug. 12, 2011

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Today the Brooklyn Museum is opening an exhibition of more than 200 objects from its African art collection, including, oddly enough, a mask of a 1970s-era Elvis Presley from Malawi. The painted wood mask, “Elvis” Mask for Nyau Society , was worn by a “secret society” made up of Chewu peoples during ceremonies and rituals.

The long-term exhibition, “African Innovations,” moves the works from the longstanding Africa galleries, which are currently undergoing renovation, to a newly updated space on the first floor. To recontextualize the collection of terracotta, beads, textiles, metal casting and more, works are being chronologically arranged for the first time. The show is set up with two galleries, the first for works dating from seventh century B.C.E. to 1800 C.E., and the second for works leading up to the present day.

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