Fans of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem, The Divine Comedy, will want to head over to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. to see a new multi-media exhibition entitled The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists.
More than 40 contemporary artists from 18 African countries and the African diaspora offer their interpretations of the themes behind the epic poem.
Patrons will see a number of different mediums used, including paintings, video projections, installations, sculptures, textiles and photography. Spanning nearly 20,000 square feet, this is the first exhibition in the museum's history to occupy all four levels of the structure.
One of the pieces of art by Aida Muluneh on display in the recently opened exhibit "The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists" — Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Be sure to check out the 42-foot canvas by Pelagie Gbaguidi and a video installation by Berry Bickle, because this is the first time these pieces have been on display in North America. You'll also want to see Christine Dixie's life-size embossed engravings and a photograph series by Youssef Nabil.
"Through a variety of media, this exhibition demonstrates how concepts visited in Dante's poem transcend Western traditions and resonate with diverse contemporary cultures, belief systems and political issues," organizers write on the museum's website. "Overall, the exhibition provides a probing examination of life, death and the continued power of art to express the unspoken and intangible."
Patrons can even watch videos of the artists describing their work while at the museum.
Curated by art critic Simon Njami, the exhibition will run from now until Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Docent-led tours are available, so just check with the information desk about their availability.
After making your way through The Divine Comedy exhibit, don't leave without checking out the other current exhibitions on display at the facility.
Comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille loaned their art collection to the museum for Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue. Paired with pieces also from the museum's collection, this exhibit aims to start discussions on themes such as conversations considered, power and politics and music and urban culture.
See the photographs from one of Nigeria's most famous photographers in Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria, which runs until mid-September.
Before or after a visit to the museum, you can look at their online exhibitions, which currently feature Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean. The showcase features pictures tracing turn-of-the-century maritime societies and ports.
To get to the museum, take the Metro's Smithsonian or L'Enfant Plaza station.