Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths

April 17, 2019 – October 14, 2019

Kwaku Bempah (Asante artist) and unidentified blacksmith
Active early 20th century, Ghana Double bell (dawuro, nnawuta) c. 1920
Iron, wood Fowler Museum at UCLA, X87.1312, gift of Elizabeth Lloyd Davis

National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC

Floor Plan

For more than two millennia, ironworking has shaped African cultures in the most fundamental ways. Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths reveals the history of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform one of Earth’s most basic natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, spiritual potency, and astonishing artistry.

Striking Iron is an international traveling exhibition organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA that combines scholarship with objects of great aesthetic beauty to create the most comprehensive treatment of the blacksmith’s art in Africa to date. The exhibition includes over 225 artworks from across the African continent focusing on the region south of the Sahara and covering a time period spanning early archaeological evidence to the present day. Striking Iron features artworks from the Fowler collection as well as American and European public and private collections.