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“Caravans of Gold” Shows Treasures of Medieval Africa

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Detail showing Mansa Musa sitting on a throne and holding a gold coin

Mansa Musa depicted holding a gold coin from the 1375 Catalan Atlas.

Abraham Cresques

“Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa,”the first major exhibition to showcase West Africa’s global impact during the medieval period, opens this Saturday at Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art. A couple weeks ago, it seemed like the exhibit might fall apart. Museum curator Kathleen Bickford Berzock received word that nearly two dozen pieces on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art would not arrive on time due to the government shutdown. Berzock joins us to explain how the exhibit ultimately came together, and her novel curatorial approach pairing archaeological artifacts with equivalent artworks in Western museums.

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