MISSION

The Bedford Stuyvesant Museum of African Art (BSMAA) is a not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to providing an enriching educations experience to an under-served community in Central Brooklyn. 

With is unique collection of artwork form more than 40 of the 54 African countries, the museum enriches the lives of the multicultural community of Central Brooklyn and brings pride to the youth population. Furthermore, the museum strives to increase a broader appreciation and encourages a deeper understanding of the diverse art and cultures around the world. The African art housed in the museum succeeds in teaching its patrons not only about the diverse cultures in Africa but also how the customs and traditions ("symbols") from this vast and diverse continent are reflected in other world cultures from American's Native Americans, South America, Asia and the Middle East. 

BSMAA strives to communicate with and enrich a diverse population throughout Brooklyn with its unique art collection. 

The museum continues to add traditional, as well as contemporary and modern African art, to its collection. Since many traditional African artisans are passing on to join their ancestors, the genius of these carvers may be lost forever. The museum founders believe that young African artisans should be encouraged to create the art masterpieces of today that will be the revered antique pieces of the future. 

The core of the museum is its world-class permanent collection. But the Museum also achieves its mission through exhibits, in-museum and outreach tours, video presentations, lectures, films, youth and adult workshops, story-telling, academic courses, artists-in-residence programs, partnerships with other arts organizations and museums, visiting scholars as well as school and community outreach programs. 

The museum's exhibits and other enrichment programs create an excellent development opportunity for children while promoting family interaction and a renewed sense of community. 

It takes a village. 

MUSEUM OBJECTIVES

  • Exhibit the diverse art of Africa to a multicultural population in Central Brooklyn and beyond

  • Stimulate the curiosity of youth to appreciate other cultures

  • Bring cultures together for dialogue and interactive learning. Discussions will focus on the customs, or symbols that African art reflects in the culture and philosophy of Africa as well as similarities that could be applied to all societies when reflecting on the importance of the power of culture and traditions. 

  • Establish partnerships with existing arts institutions in Brooklyn, New York and beyond. 

  • Organize innovative, unforgettable, "have to see" exhibitions and activities with enormous appeal to the public as well as create thought-provoking dialogue. 

  • Engage African Americans and African expatriates in engaging activities and stimulating dialogue. 

  • Produce quality publications form original research on African art and culture. 

LEADERSHIP

Vira Lynn Jones

DIRECTOR and FOUNDER

vira@bedstuymuseum.org

 

Born and raised in Charleston, WV, Vira Lynn Jones obtained a degree in Journalism from Ohio University. She subsequently served in the Peace Core in Ghana, West African as en English teacher. During her service she traveled extensively in Africa to the Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo building her African art collection. Ms. Jones has also lived and worked in the People's Republic of China as a professor at a university in Nanjing, China. After returning from 

China, Ms. Jones completed her graduate degree in Journalism at Columbia University in New York. Additionally she has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. ​

Ms. Jones became inspired to create a museum in 2002 when she began to think about the future of her beloved African art collection that resided in two storage facilities. Because her relatives did not share her passion for art, she began to explore estate planning options. She was moved to contribute to a museum after she informally sold some pieces in from of her house during the summer of 2002. 

Following that summer the museum and Ms. Jones' vision for a space for African Art in Central Brooklyn has expanded enormously. The Bedford Stuyvesant Museum of African Art officially incorporated in 2012 and since then has developed a tour and event schedule for the public. The BSMAA presents an annual awards ceremony, giving three recipients the Nelson Mandiba Mandela Humanitarian Award for their contributions to society. This October 2016, Ms. Jones will present her fourth awards ceremony. 

Ms. Jones continues to work tirelessly to keep growing this extraordinary asset to the community. She believes that it is her responsibility to make communities and leadership aware of the Museum and make available their appreciation of African art.