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Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, PhD

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, PhDCurator of African Art
Arts of Africa and the Americas Department Head
Department: Arts of Africa and the Americas

Current MIA Projects

  • Re-installation of the African Art Galleries. Opening scheduled for November 10, 2013

  • Education

    • PhD and MA, University of Chicago
    • MA and BA, University of Louvain, Belgium

    Background/Work History

    • Minneapolis Institute of Arts since 2008
    • Dissertation, A History and Ethnography of Modernity among the Zande, was based on 14 months of fieldwork among the Zande people of the Central African Republic (CAR), and extensive archival research on Zande colonial history in CAR, France, Belgium, and Great Britain.
    • Working with African art, mostly as an independent curator for exhibitions and/or catalogues, since 1998
    • Affiliated with such diverse European institutions as the Musée de la Musique in Paris, the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren (Belgium), the Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology) in Hamburg, and the Afrika Museum in Berg-en-Dal (Netherlands)

    Specialty/Area of Interest

    African art, with a special interest in traditional art of Central Africa; Islamic art in East, North, and West Africa; and museology

    Honors and Professional Associations

    • Member of the Board of Directors of the African Immigration Services, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
    • Member of the Board of Directors of Midwest Art Conservation Center, Minneapolis
    • Member of ACASA (the Arts Council of the African Studies Association)

    Selected Exhibitions and Projects

    • Co-curator, “Faith in Motion,” 2012–13, MIA
    • Curator, “Mystery Mask,” 2011, MIA
    • Curator, temporary exhibition, “The Social Fabric: 1,500 Years of African Textiles," 2010–11, MIA
    • Curator, temporary exhibition, “iAfrica: Connecting with Sub-Saharan Art,” 2009–10, MIA


    • Author, “Mbuti Bark Cloth” and “Zande Bark Cloth,” e-articles for the Berg Fashion Library, 2012.
    • Author, “Snake, Bush, and Metaphor: Twinship among Ubangians,” in Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures: Double Trouble, Twice Blessed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011
    • Author, "Zande and Mangbetu Ceramics: Pots and Portraits?" in African Terra Cottas: A Millenary Heritage. Geneva, 2008

    Other Information

    Worked for several years as a high-school science teacher in Gabon and Zimbabwe, which triggered his interest in African cultures.


    March 2013