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The Met to Present First Major Exhibition on the Connections between African and Byzantine Art

Nov 19, 2023–Mar 3, 2024 | The Met Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present ‘Africa & Byzantium’, a seminal exhibition of nearly 200 works that will explore the tradition of Byzantine art and culture in North and East Africa from the 4th through the 15th century and beyond.

 Rock crystal Statuette of a Lion North African (Carthage) | Courtesy of the MET
Rock crystal Statuette of a Lion, North African (Carthage) | Courtesy of the MET

Art history has long emphasized the glories of the Byzantine Empire (circa 330–1453), but less known are the profound artistic contributions of North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and other powerful African kingdoms whose pivotal interactions with Byzantium had a lasting impact on the Mediterranean world. Bringing together a range of masterworks—from mosaic, sculpture, pottery, and metalwork to luxury objects, paintings, and religious manuscripts—this exhibition recounts Africa’s central role in international networks of trade and cultural exchange.

With artworks rarely or never before seen in public, Africa & Byzantium sheds new light on the staggering artistic achievements of medieval Africa. This long-overdue exhibition highlights how the continent contributed to the development of the premodern world and offers a more complete history of the vibrant multiethnic societies of north and east Africa that shaped the artistic, economic, and cultural life of Byzantium and beyond.