Door Panels, late 1800s

Master of Ikerre, Yoruba culture, Nigeria


1973.357 and 1980.58

In Yoruba culture, important artists such as the Master of Ikerre were commissioned by kings to create large and richly ornamented doors to adorn the entrance to a palace or an important shrine. The high relief carving depicts human and animal forms, from women carrying clay pots or musical instruments to men holding bows, arrows, guns, or flywhisks—and even some riding horseback.

African Art

This collection tells the stories of Africa from many perspectives. Artworks in the gallery are selected to represent the diversity of creativity in Africa, a continent containing thousands of art-producing societies.

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Daniel Yohannes Family African Gallery, Level 4, Hamilton Building

This collection of more than 1,000 objects tells the stories of Africa from many perspectives. Artworks in the gallery are selected to represent the diversity of creativity in Africa, a continent containing thousands of art-producing societies. The gallery tells the stories of individual artists including Olowe Ise and Fernando Alvim, who are the visual chroniclers of their times.

The display also balances works by women artists—including the Akire shrine painters—with those made by men. Through the works of women artists, the gallery explores questions of gender, rituals, and the importance of group creativity in African art. Older works in the collection are juxtaposed with new works by contemporary African artists to highlight cultural continuities, international influences, and variety of themes. Interactive programs demonstrate the link among visual, musical and performance arts in Africa.

Native Arts Department

The Native Arts Department is composed of the arts of the indigenous peoples of North America, Africa, and Oceania. Supporting these collections is a library of books and periodicals on specialized topics in native arts.

The African collection consists of approximately 1,000 objects, and focuses on the diverse artistic traditions of Africa, including rare and exquisite works in sculpture, textiles, jewelry, painting, printmaking and drawings. Although the strength of the collection is west African art, with emphasis on Yoruba works, there are important masterpieces from all regions and mediums of expression including wood, metals, fibers, terra cotta, and mixed media compositions.

In the African Art, American Indian Art, and Oceanic Art collections, important modern and contemporary artists are represented; reflecting the continued but evolving artistic practice of indigenous artists and cultures. Learn more about the Native Arts Department on the American Indian Art collection page.

Signature programs

Hands on Art Workshop

Connect to the creative process of artist, El Anatsui. Anatsui is known for large scale wall sculptures made from discarded bottle caps. Located adjacent to the work of the artist in the African gallery, visitors can try their hand at creating art from recycled beer boxes, leaving or taking home their creation.

Support Group

The Douglas Society is the support group of the Native Arts Department at the Denver Art Museum. It was founded in 1974 to advance the understanding and appreciation of the museums Native Arts collections. The Douglas Society organizes lectures and meetings with distinguished scholars, native artists, and performers. Members also enjoy special workshops and programs, receive a quarterly newsletter, and can attend the annual dinner. For more information, visit Read more about it and all DAM support groups on the Support Groups page.

Current Staff

  • Nancy Blomberg, Chief Curator and Curator of Native Arts
  • John Lukavic, Associate Curator of Native Arts
  • Eric Berkemeyer, Curatorial Assistant of Native Arts
  • Heather Nielsen, Master Teacher

Past Staff

  • Edgar C. McMechan, Curator
  • Frederic H. Douglas, Curator
  • Kate Peck Kent, Assistant Curator
  • Royal B. Hassrick, Curator
  • Norman Feder, Curator
  • Richard Conn, Curator
  • David Irving, Assistant Curator
  • Ryntha Johnson, Assistant Curator
  • Moyo Okediji , Assistant Curator
  • Roger Echo-Hawk, Assistant Curator
  • Polly Nordstrand, Associate Curator

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