DAVENPORT, Iowa – Now open, the Putnam Museum and Science Center’s new exhibition “Akwaaba: West African Cultures” is the second exhibition at the World Culture Gallery. The World Culture Gallery showcases cultures from around the world, as evidenced by the museum’s historical collection and rich partnership within the international Quad Cities community. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, the Putnam houses a collection entrusted to the museum by seven generations of Quad Citians, including artifacts from the world travels of some of the museum’s founders such as the Putnam, Palmer and Figge families.
West Africa is made up of many diverse cultural groups linked by common languages and shared ethnicities. “Akwaaba: West African Cultures” features artifacts from a dozen cultural groups in Putnam’s collection and from West African immigrants to the region.
Much of the collection featured in “Akwaaba: Cultures of West Africa” was generously donated by former ambassadors Richard Kauzlarich and Anne Kauzlarich after their stay in Africa in the late 1960s and 1970s. Cities, the Kauzlariches lived in Togo while Richard Kauzlarich worked at the United States Embassy and Anne Kauzlarich ran a shop in Lome, buying items from Togolese traders.
Other objects are loaned by the West African community of the Quad Cities. The exhibition is co-curated with Nana Ouro-Agoro, who sits on the board of directors of the Quad Cities Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, represents the United African Organization and is herself an immigrant from Togo who arrived in the Quad Cities in 2008.
The name of the exhibit, Akwaaba, was inspired by Nana Ouro-Agoro when she brought her children to Putnam. “Last year, I had the chance to visit the Putnam Museum with my children,” she recalls, “and I was amazed, delighted and impressed to see the display of West African artifacts . I just felt welcome, Akwaaba.
“The World Culture Gallery brings Putnam’s mission to life every day by inspiring our diverse community to discover and care for our world and all of its inhabitants,” said Rachael Mullins, CEO and President of Putnam. “The gallery and our new exhibition, ‘Akwaaba’, provide an opportunity to celebrate and engage our international community to serve as experts in their culture and create a sense of belonging for other newcomers to their country. “
Admission to the exhibit is included in the general admission price – $9 for adults and $8 for youth (3-18), seniors, students, and military. As part of Putnam’s Museums for All program, admission is $1 per person for households upon presentation of an EBT card. Admission is free for members.
For more information, visit https://www.putnam.org/exhibits/world-culture-gallery. For groups or to plan your visit, call 563-324-1933.