African Art Museum - SMA

African Art Museum - SMA African Art Museum

The African Art Museum of the SMA Fathers at Tenafly, New Jersey is one of five museums around the world founded and maintained by the Society of African Missions (SMA), an international Roman Catholic missionary organization that serves the people of Africa. The museums continue the vision of SMA’s founder, Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac (1813-1859). The French-born clergyman urged his Society to respect and preserve the culture of the peoples they serve, the unique vision among missionaries of his time. Established in 1980, the Tenafly museum is one of only a rare few in the United States dedicated solely to the arts of Africa. Its permanent collections, exhibited on a rotating basis, offer a unique advantage in the study and research of sub-Saharan sculpture and painting, costumes, textiles and decorative arts, religion and folklore. Hours are 8AM-5PM seven days a week. Group tours for adults and children by appointment. Admission is free, though donations are always welcome. The museum is located at 23 Bliss Ave., Tenafly, NJ.

Guide to the African Collections of the American Province of SMA will be published on in six volumes....
African Art Museum » Guide to Collections – Volume I

Guide to the African Collections of the American Province of SMA will be published on in six volumes. The first in the series – I. TheWest Guinea Coast: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, – is now on the web site and will be available in hard copy in July, 2012.

Society of African Missions (SMA)

NEW ACQUISITIONWood, wood screws, iron loops, width 33” x length 64” Acquired by Dr. Mount in Nigeria in the early 1970s...


Wood, wood screws, iron loops, width 33” x length 64”
Acquired by Dr. Mount in Nigeria in the early 1970s

We welcome your comments. Do you have a Nupe door in your collection? If so, we would love to see it. Please email us a photograph with whatever information you have about the object. And what do you think of our door? Thank you for your interest in the SMA African Art Museum. Robert J. Koenig, [email protected]

Constructed of four boards of blackened wood, covered with well-designed and beautifully executed images in low relief. The flat surfaces of these relief shapes are entirely covered with incised lines and patterns. The images include a serpent, crocodile, two mammals, a gun, ceremonial sword, and twelve rectangles of varied proportions and sizes. The surface of the door is a rich blackish-brown, mellowed by age and use. The verso of each of the four boards is beautifully adzed in large, shallow, cup-shaped depressions. The boards are held together by two horizontal wooden braces fastened to the boards with steel wood screws. The adzing and condition of these braces suggest that they were made by the same craftsman who carved the four boards. On the back of one of the boards are two rusted iron loops.

The Nupe live along the banks of the Niger River in Nigeria. They are famous for their terra cotta vessels for the storage of palm wine and water. These are distinguished by a globular body and a graceful neck surmounted by a cup. Two Nupe storage containers and a Nupe bowl are in the collections of the SMA African Art Museum.

African Art Museum - SMA's cover photo

African Art Museum - SMA's cover photo


23 Bliss Ave
Tenafly, NJ

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 10:00 - 17:00


(201) 567-0450


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