African art treasures at the Southern University Museum of Art Shreveport

Nestled in the heart of the downtown campus of Southern University Shreveport Louisiana is a two story space filled with fantastic examples of African art treasures. The mission of the Southern University Museum of Art at Shreveport (SUMAS) is to assure that the art, artifacts and other treasured works of Africans, African Americans and their descendants are accessible to the community in an organized and cherished collection.

Much of the African artwork comes from the collections of Dr. Leon R. Tarver, II and Dr. William Bertrand. Pieces from Mali, Congo and Cameroon fill the upstairs area. You’ll see ceremonial masks, statues, works of fabric and many more. Some of the significant pieces include the drums. Before telephones, drums were used to spread information. Beat the drum a certain way and someone would send out an invitation to come and celebrate. Change the cadence or the rhythm and one would send a warning.

Downstairs, you will find a number of African-American art from the Southern University Museum of Art in Baton Rouge. Works from Dr. Maya Angelou, Phoebe Beasley, Fred Ajanogha and others hang on the wall. Also, experience local and regional artists on display with new exhibitions every few months. According to museum coordinator Angelique Feaster Evans, one of the highlights must be the statue of Harriet Tubman. During the Civil War, she helped hundreds of slaves escape the South via the Underground Railroad. Hanging behind her is a quilt made up of the symbols used by the Railroad to communicate with each other.

In addition to the artwork, you and a group can discover the “Art & Soul” of African culture. Participate in a drum circle using African drums. Or create Adrinka art. For more information about tours and these exciting events, click here.

SUMAS is open for you to view these incredible African art treasures from 10:00am-5:00pm Tuesday through Thursday and on Fridays from 10:00am-Noon. It is located at 610 Texas Street in downtown Shreveport.

Related topic: Check out the history behind a 19th Century community in Southwest Arkansas.