Lecture – The Missionary as Collector: Dr. George W. Harley in Liberia

Christopher B. Steiner, Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History and Anthropology and Director of the Museum Studies Program, Connecticut College

Dr. Steiner will explore the history of African art collecting in Liberia by examining the work of American medical-missionary Dr. George W. Harley. By tracing his career in Liberia between 1925 and 1960, the lecture reveals how Dr. Harley shifted from ethnographic collecting in the 1930s and 1940s to marketing objects for a burgeoning African art market in America beginning in the 1950s. Steiner considers such issues as the ethics of field collecting, the cultural construction of authenticity, and the role of provenance in the contemporary market for “high end” African art. Co-sponsored by the Palmer Museum of Art, African Studies Program, and the Department of Art History. This event is part of the African Brilliance Lecture Series.