Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Art and artifacts from Africa are sometimes comprised of materials of unknown origin, as was the case with the National Museum of African Art’s nkisi mbumba—medicine skull—a Kongo power object containing a primate skull embedded in a woven basket and covered with encrusted pigment. This video documents the inquiry into the species identification of the skull by presenting the process of X-radiography with conservator Stephanie Hornbeck and the expert consultation undertaken with primatologist Richard Thorington in the Central African primates storage area at the National Museum of Natural History, conducted in May 2009.

j vimeo.com/5846394

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