Harvard Opens New Gallery Exclusively for African & African American Art

The newly opened gallery at Harvard University: The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art. The building is 23,000 square feet and holds 98 pieces by 21 artists. (Photograph: The Crimson)

The Harvard Crimson


The first Harvard gallery exclusively for African & African American art, the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, opened Tuesday.

To celebrate the event, the Hutchins Center hosted a discussion with curators David Adjaye and Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt, moderated by professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and held at the Harvard Faculty Club. The talk delved into the process behind the creation of the gallery as well as the curators’s ideas regarding the significance of the installation.

Afterwards, attendees walked to the new gallery at 104 Mt. Auburn St., next to Peet’s Coffee. The contemporary African artwork displayed was collected by Italian businessman Jean Pigozzi ’74, and was titled “Luminós/C/ity.Ordinary Joy.”

During the talk, Gates recalled how a deal was struck with Ethelbert Cooper to create the gallery.

“[Cooper and I] were sitting there, it was sleeting and he said…I want a naming opportunity. I want my name on something at Harvard,” Gates said to laughter. Gates then told Cooper that no university had created a gallery explicitly for African and African-American art and that this endeavor would be “the greatest thing.”

A notable architect, Adjaye designed the building by drawing on his roots in Ghana, influenced by the country’s forests. The building’s exterior is covered in a facade of vertical wooden planks.

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