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African American Art


For more than a century, the museum has been home to exceptional art by African Americans. Today our collection includes over 1,400 examples of fine and decorative art made by 250 artists of African descent. These numbers grow every year.

This online exhibition presents works by some of these men and women. These works reflect a wide range of creative practices, ideas, and backgrounds. They confirm that African American art is not an easily defined category, but a rich gathering of individual expressions by people who share the legacy of diaspora, or displacement from an ancestral land.

African American art is also deeply intertwined with the history of race in the United States—from colonial enslavement, to the civil rights movement, to today. The works presented here are far more than a group of personal statements about identity or recorded moments in history. They have power, beauty, and meaning that extend beyond categorization to achieve timeless, universal appeal.

Online Exhibition

Image Gallery

Explore a selection of works by African American artists from our collection.


Consulting curator Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Associate Professor of American Art, University of Pennsylvania. Organizing curator John Vick, Project Assistant Curator, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Explore MoreDiscover additional stories and items related to this exhibition.
Learn about Henry Ossawa Tanner’s unconventional depiction of the Virgin Mary.
Educational Resource
Educational Resource
This resource for K–12 students and teachers celebrates the innovation of African American artists.
Explore nearly 150 collection objects created by American artists of African descent.

Check out other exhibitions

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