‘Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa’ at Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

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Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa running January 26–July 21, 2019.

'Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa' at Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

Travel with The Block Museum to a time when West African gold fueled expansive trade and drove the movement of people, culture, and religious beliefs.




Caravans of Gold is the first major exhibition addressing the scope of Saharan trade and the shared history of West Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe from the eighth to sixteenth centuries. Weaving stories about interconnected histories, the exhibition showcases the objects and ideas that connected at the crossroads of the medieval Sahara and celebrates West Africa’s historic and underrecognized global significance.

Caravans of Gold draws on recent archaeological discoveries, including rare fragments from major medieval African trading centers like Sijilmasa, Gao, and Tadmekka. These “fragments in time” are seen alongside works of art that invite us to imagine them as they once were. They are the starting point for a new understanding of the medieval past and for seeing the present in a new light.




Presenting more than 250 artworks spanning five centuries and a vast geographic expanse, the exhibition features unprecedented loans from partner institutions in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria, many of which will be seen in North America for the first time.

The Block Museum of Art is a free public art museum located on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

The Block Museum exhibition will travel to The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (Sept. 21, 2019 – Feb. 23, 2020) and then to the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute (April 8 – Nov. 29, 2020)

Source: Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University [January 22, 2019]

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