Curator’s Note

Welcome to the online exhibition of the PLU African Art Collection.

Beginning in 1972 and continuing through 2011, Pacific Lutheran University has been the honored recipient of nearly 60 pieces of African art. The generous donors who made the PLU African Art Collection possible are Dr. J. Hans and Thelma Lehmann and Dr. Oliver E. and Pamela F. Cobb. Over the years a number of these objects have been on display in the Mortvedt Library, where a small exhibition space has been created in the stairwell leading to the third floor. The masks, figures and other objects that comprise the collection represent works from 16 countries and the creative output of artists from nearly 30  cultural traditions.

This online exhibition is the final project of 15 undergraduate students in an Introduction to Museum Studies workshop-class in Spring semester 2015. The research and writing for this project have been supplemented by the research of four other students who, between 2009 and 2011, volunteered to research particular pieces just for the joy of being able to examine them up close and learn from and about such works of art.

The project would not have been so successful without the support of Chris Albert in Marketing and Communications and Shaun Spurlock ’15; the superb photographic skills of John Froschauer and Jordan Hartman; Richard and Marcia Moe, who kindly shared their remembrances of the Lehmanns and the first gifts to the collection; Dr. Oliver and Pamela Cobb, for speaking about why they collect and donate; and the continued interest and cooperation of Fran Lane Rasmus, Holly Senn and Diane Harris of the Mortvedt Library.

You can see and learn more about the PLU African Art Collection by entering this online exhibition, where you will find the art categorized by form: Masks, Figures and Personal Objects.

– Neal W. Sobania, Ph.D.
Professor of History

Introduction: African Art

Africa has a tremendous diversity of languages, ethnic identities, cultural traditions and environments in which people live and work.


Take the tour with our Interactive map of Africa, and learn about the origins of our African Art Collection.

Kids' Guide

Use this downloadable resource guide to help teach children about the art of Africa and the collection at Pacific Lutheran University.

About our Donors

Learn how the African Art Collection came to be and about the generous donors who contributed to it.