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Ethiopia at the Crossroads

Journey through more than 1,700 years of artistic traditions and celebrate rich history and culture with “Ethiopia at the Crossroads,” on view Aug. 17-Nov. 10, 2024 at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA). It is the first major United States exhibition to examine Ethiopian art in a global context and chronicle the country’s artistic traditions and exchanges from their origins to present day.


Ethiopia sits in the Horn of Africa and throughout its history has been a crossroads. Its access to key waterways and strategic placement at the juncture of Africa, Asia and Europe fostered trade and significant cultural interchange. “Ethiopia at the Crossroads” situates artistic expression, practice and creation within the nation’s significant role in the growth and spread of Judaism, Christianity and Islam from the time of their inception. 

In the exhibition, more than 200 historic and contemporary works usher visitors through centuries of this cross-cultural connectivity and highlight the role Ethiopian artists played in the creation and exchange of artworks throughout Africa and across the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Historical works of Ethiopian art — including devotional painted icons, manuscripts, coins, textiles, metalwork and carved wood crosses of various scales — will appear alongside contemporary works by Aida Muluneh and Elias Sime to showcase the often-overlooked cultural significance of Ethiopia. 

“Ethiopia at the Crossroads” is co-organized by The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland); the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Massachusetts); and the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, Ohio). The exhibition is curated by Christine Sciacca, Ph.D., curator of European art, 300-1400 CE, The Walters Art Museum. Coordinating curators are Sophie Ong for the Toledo Museum of Art and Karen Kramer, Stuart W. and Elizabeth F. Pratt curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture, Peabody Essex Museum. The works on view include Ethiopian art from the organizers’ world-renowned collections and loans from American, Ethiopian and European lenders. An illustrated catalogue published by The Walters Art Museum will accompany the exhibition.


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