Tech Launches Africa Atlanta 2014 Initiative

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Arts and culture, innovation, and entrepreneurship — these aren’t concepts that typically come to mind when Americans think of Africa.

But a Georgia Tech-led initiative has ambitious goals to recast narrow and negative perceptions about the continent and highlight Atlanta as a center for action. 

The idea for Africa Atlanta 2014 grew out of a conversation over lunch one day when Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Dean Jacqueline Royster learned that the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, was closing for renovation and was willing to have pieces from its spectacular collection tour outside of Belgium.  

She immediately set about finding partners and funding to bring to Atlanta an exhibition that was being curated for a U.S. tour, KONGO across the WATERS.

“From our start in 2012, we’ve found tremendous enthusiasm for this project,” Royster said. “The arts became our pebble in the pond.”  

The ripple spread across universities, visual and performing arts organizations, African Diaspora heritage communities, governmental organizations and agencies (local, state, national, and international), nongovernmental organizations, business, and industry.

Taking a cue from the highly successful model for France-Atlanta, Royster chose a holistic approach and included activities spanning not only arts and culture, but education, business and innovation, and global affairs.

“The idea is to see the arts as a lens for understanding cultures more robustly within a global context,” she said. “We are thrilled to have one of the world’s foremost collections of African art to anchor this initiative. We are also thrilled to add many other amazing artistic and cultural activities.”

Campus sponsors include the Office of the Provost, Office for Institute Diversity, Office of International Education, College of Architecture, Scheller College of Business, Office of International Initiatives, College of Science, Institute of Paper Science and Technology, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, the IAC School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and the IAC School of Modern Languages.  

Events across the city are already underway. Upcoming campus events include the

  • Mapping Place: Africa Beyond Paper (Feb. 28-May 17): An exhibition exploring the changing representation and projection of space that has shaped our approach to Africa at the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum. Admission is free.
  • Shuffle, Shake, and Shatter by Sanford Biggers (March 28): A multimedia film suite exploring the formation and dissolution of identity at the Ferst Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15 for the general public. 
  • Africa Beyond Africa: The Future of Cultural, Social, and Scientific Research Conference (May 16-17): This event will focus on challenges museums face today including uses of science and technology for presentation and representation. See for registration fees and details. 
  • KONGO across the WATERS (May 17-Sept. 21): Art and artifacts from the Royal Museum for Central Africa explore connections between the art and culture of the Kongo peoples and African-American art in the United States at Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Tickets are $8.

View the full schedule of events here.



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