At the end of last year, nearly four decades after its inauguration, the Metropolitan Museum’s Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, dedicated to the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, closed for a much-needed renovation and upgrade. To compensate for the absence of these important collections for the next two years, the Met created “The African Origin of Civilization,” a tightly focused exhibition with some outliers (more about that later).1 Organized by Alisa LaGamma, the curator in charge of the department of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and Diana Craig Patch, the curator in charge of the department of Egyptian art, and drawn entirely from the museum’s holdings, it combines superb works from sub-Saharan Africa with equally significant works from...

 

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