Art of African Exploration Exhibition Opening Reception

On December 9, 2008, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries displayed a new exhibition titled the Art of African Exploration, which showcases the Russell E. Train Africana Collection, a collection rich in visual materials. The exhibition is located in the Constitution Avenue lobby of the National Museum of Natural History and features printed illustrations, original art, portraits, and field sketches from Western scientists, missionaries, artists, and journalists who visited Africa in the 17- and 1800s.  Over 150 guests attended the opening reception, at which time the two new cases were revealed.  National Museum of Natural History Director Cristian Samper, Libraries Director Nancy E. Gwinn, Roger Sant, Russell E. Train, and the exhibition curators Daria Wingreen-Mason and Kirsten van der Veen spoke at the event.

Highlighted in the Art of African Exploration are notable 19th century British explorers Henry Morgan Stanley and David Livingstone, who sought fame and fortune in their African expeditions.  Stanley’s novel In Darkest Africa (1890), commemorative objects such as a glass lantern slide from a 40-piece set of Livingstone’s life and career, and a special issue of The Graphic (April 30, 1890), are on display.  Also featured are original works from artists and scientists, including the Map of Africa from Cary’s New Universal Atlas (1808), Anders Sparrman’s A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope(1786), and a drawing of the extinct “quagga” animal from Samuel Daniell’s African Scenery and Animals.  For more information, please visit