The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Reichhold Center for the Arts (RCA) has installed an exhibit of African masks from the University’s African Art Collection at the Fort Christian Museum on St. Thomas.   The University launched the exhibit on Feb. 14, 2022, as part of the celebration of UVI’s 60th Anniversary. It will remain open to the public until March 31.    

The historic art collection was originally on display at the Reichhold Center for the Arts until Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused severe damage to the facility, partially exposing the exhibit.  With support from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH)  and the aid of conservators from the Smithsonian Institution and A.M. Art Conservation, Reichhold was able to restore several critically damaged pieces that are now on display.  “We are ecstatic to collaborate with Fort Christian and Museum Curator Monica Prosper on this exhibit.  It breathes new life into the collection” said Denise Humphrey, director of the Reichhold Center for the Arts.   

The exhibit contains Bundu helmets from the Sande society of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Also included are two “Maiden Spirit” masks from Nigeria.  The Bundu helmets are initiation masks worn by young girls during rituals that induct them into womanhood, whereas the Maiden Spirit masks are worn by male dancers who perform for agricultural rituals during the dry season or at funerals of prominent figures in their society.

More information is available in a news release on the Media Section of the UVI - and from this  direct link