Akwaaba: Journey to West Africa

West African artifacts on display in the Akwaaba: Journey to West Africa exhibit in the World Culture Gallery. A west African woman in traditional dress interacting with a modern tablet. Also included a west African clay bust and black stylized depiction of a female figure with red jewelry accents.

Mon – Sat: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun: Noon – 5 p.m.

Mon – Sat: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun: Noon – 5 p.m.

Discover the Cultures of West Africa

West Africa is made up of many cultural groups bonded by common languages and shared ethnicities. While each West African group is unique, they often share the values of honoring their ancestors, duty to their community, and keeping traditions alive. 

The ability to adapt their beliefs and traditions to change is what unites cultures and helps preserve them in an ever-changing world. Akwaaba: West African Cultures features artifacts of a dozen cultural groups from the Putnam’s collection. Akwaaba—meaning “you are welcome”—to enjoy these artifacts from West Africa and learn about the fascinating cultures that created them! 

Much of the collection featured in Akwaaba: West African Cultures was generously donated by former ambassador Richard Kauzlarich and Mrs. Anne Kauzlarich following their time in Africa during the late 1960s and 1970s. Native to the Quad Cities, the Kauzlariches lived in Togo while Richard worked at the U.S. Embassy and Anne managed a boutique in Lomé, purchasing items from the Togolese tradeswomen. 

Other objects are on loan from the West African community of the Quad Cities. The exhibit is co-curated with Nana Ouro-Agoro who serves on the board of Quad Cities Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, represents the United African Organization, and is herself an immigrant from Togo arriving in the Quad Cities in 2008. 

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