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The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that its Michael C. Rockefeller Wing has been joined by Eileen Musundi – Head of Exhibitions, Directorate of Antiquities, Sites and Monuments at the National Museums of Kenya – who has been appointed to a four-month residency program beginning March 2023. 

Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Courtesy of Steven Zucker.

“As work on the Museum’s new Africa galleries continues to reconceptualise and reframe the collection, significant research continues as we prepare the content that will deepen appreciation of works and immense cultural diversity of the region,” said Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator for African Art and Curator in Charge of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. “We are thrilled to welcome Eileen Musundi to the department.”

Musundi will work closely with curators from the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing as well as various departments throughout the Museum. Her residency will explore developing a proposal for a traveling loan exhibition of works from The Met collection to Nairobi as well as developing and leading a public education program, which will draw on her expertise in African textiles. The program will explore cultural legacies and identity in East Africa and the development of textile production and will be presented in conjunction with the Education Department. Titled ‘Textiles and Identity in East Africa‘, it will take place on May 9, 2023.

“My first hand experiences of living in East Africa and my studies and interests in the arts and culture of Africa have ultimately brought me here to New York and The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” said Musundi. “My time here will be very enriching for me and my institution, and I count this as one of the highlights of my career. I look forward to experiencing everything that this residency has to offer.”

The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at The Met closed to the public in the summer of 2021 to begin a major renovation project that will re-envision its collections for a new generation of visitors. The galleries – 40,000 square feet on the Museum’s south side – will be overhauled and reimagined to reintroduce the department’s three distinct collections of African art, ancient American art, and Oceanic art, displaying them as discrete elements in an overarching wing that is in dialogue with the Museum’s collection as a whole. The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing is scheduled to reopen in spring 2025.

This residency is part of an ongoing commitment to incorporate contemporary voices and perspectives from the region in the shaping of the narratives that will be presented in the new galleries. Initiatives include a collaborative project with World Monuments Fund (WMF) to create a digital resource devoted to highlighting notable cultural landmarks in sub-Saharan Africa and their caretakers that will be featured throughout the African Art galleries, and the appointment of Sosena Solomon, an award-winning social documentary film and multimedia visual artist from Ethiopia, to undertake the filming of sites and interviews with experts on the significance of the sites in those communities.

Eileen Musundi has been Head of Exhibitions, Directorate of Antiquities, Sites and Monuments at the National Museums of Kenya since 2017 and has also worked as an exhibition designer and developer since 2006.

During her tenure at the National Museums of Kenya, she has curated and been the lead designer for both permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions. Musundi assisted with the “Museum in Change” project, which involved redesigning and reinstalling sections of the Nairobi National Museum’s permanent collections between 2004 and 2008. More recently, Musundi was the lead designer of the exhibitions ‘Kanga Stories’ (2011); ‘Currencies, Trade and Exchange’ (2016); and ‘Omieri: Rebirth of a Legend’ (2018). Musundi is currently the “principal investigator” for an exhibition, ‘Kenya-Oman’, and is involved in the design and planning of two new national museums in Kenya – a museum dedicated to historical figures in Kenyan history, and Kenya’s first national gallery of art.

For more information, please visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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