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University Relations

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April 8, 2005
Contact: John M. Janzen, Kansas African Studies Center, (785) 864-3745; Khalid El-Hassan, Craig Pearman or Stephanie Kirmer, (785) 864-3745,

Gift of century-old African carved ivory tusk to KU prompts exhibit, conference

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas will commemorate the gift of a century-old carved ivory tusk to its Museum of Anthropology with a mini-conference and public exhibit Wednesday, April 13.

The tusk, from the Loango coast of Western Equatorial Africa, was given to KU by Rabbi Wolfgang Hamburger and his wife, Susan, of St. Joseph, Mo. It along other with other Equatorial African artifacts from the KU Museum of Anthropology and the Kauffman Museum in North Newton will be on exhibit during the conference and related events.

The exhibit and conference, "African Carved Ivory," will be Wednesday afternoon at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU. Scholars will discuss African art and Western Equatorial African society, as well as the Hamburger family story through two world wars in Germany, the fate of the ivory and the family's emigration to Australia and America.

Faculty scholars from KU and Washburn University in Topeka will be joined by distinguished anthropologist and Kongo art scholar Wyatt MacGaffey, of Haverford College, Pa., and Nichole Bridges, doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert on African carved ivories.

MacGaffey will lecture at 1 p.m. on the history of Kongo art; Bridges will lecture on carved ivories at 2:30 p.m. From 4 to 6:30 p.m. the scholars will hold a symposium on the historical layers of significance of this unique cultural object across four continents, three generations and multiple political eras. The conference will close with a reception in the art museum atrium from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Kansas African Studies Center coordinates and develops the interdisciplinary interests of Africanists at KU and promotes the study of Africa.


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