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Michigan exhibit traces mask from Africa to Ann Arbor


Ann Arbor, Mich. — An exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art traces an African mask’s 100-year, 10,000-mile journey.

The exhibit, “Traces: Reconstructing the History of a Chokwe Mask,” chronicles the mask’s origins from what is now Angola to Ann Arbor.

Museum officials say the mask was part of an elaborate costume and performance. Such masks were common, but this one is rare for its quality and documentation.

Officials say the mask was taken by a German explorer, acquired by a dealer in Germany and sold to Ann Arbor businessman and philanthropist Helmut Stern. Stern and his wife, Candis, donated it to the museum as part of their Central African art collection.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 22, aims to reflect the mask’s history, which includes trade, interaction, colonialism and oppression.