Eric Edwards, a Brooklyn-based former AT&T executive, has launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to create a museum to house his 2,500-piece collection of African art and artifacts, worth approximately $10 million.
If Edwards raises $35,000 in the next 39 days, the resulting institution will be known as the Cultural Museum of African Art Eric Edwards Collection, and will likely open in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood by the end of the year. Edwards hopes to feature rotating exhibits in addition to his collection of metal works, clothing, musical instruments, fine art, and ceremonial masks.
The collection has taken Edwards 44 years to amass, and represents all 54 countries in Africa, with artifacts dating as far back as the Nubian empire. In addition to making his collection accessible to the public, Edwards hopes to display his extensive library of books on African art, host public programs, and potentially even rent studio space to local artists.
“My life’s mission has shifted from building this collection, to ensuring that it can find a home where it can be preserved and cared for,” he told Gothamist.
Edwards was recently the subject of The Collector, a short documentary film by filmmaker Mark Zemel, which reveals both the extent of his collection and the lengths he will go to get what he wants.
“If it’s within my grasp, and I know that’s something I want, I go after it with full voracity,” he says in the film.
Donations to the Kickstarter campaign will go towards costs associated with opening the museum, including the hiring of a development aid to raise capital funds, finding and finalizing a location for the museum, appraisal fees, funding expenses for the first two exhibitions, and the hiring of an administrative assistant and web developer.
“It is our hope that this museum will help introduce future generations of Americans to the rich cultural heritage of Africa,” the Kickstarter text reads. “It is important for all of us to know who we are, and where we come from, so that we can be more proud citizens and positive contributors to society.”
This museum seems to be proposed at just the right time, as the market for African art is on the rise (see Experts Say Nigeria Will Lead Upcoming African Art Market Boom), and one of the highlights of Frieze Week in New York was a much-needed fair devoted to work by contemporary African artists (see 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Is Full of Good Art and Tough Questions).
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