Current Exhibitions

February 16 - May 27, 2017

Architecture of Independence - African Modernism

Between 1957 and 1966, 32 countries – almost two thirds of all African nations – gained their independence from colonial powers. In these budding nations, including Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Zambia that are featured in this exhibition, technology and development became tools of liberation and instruments for expressing national identity. The daring and ambitious designs of new buildings, from state banks to convention centers and stadiums, mirrored the optimism and aspirations of the newly liberated states.

Presenting over 700 photographs, as well as archival materials, historical photos, newspaper clippings, postcards, videos, plans, and sketches, Architecture of Independence documents the ambivalences of decolonization, its contradictions, and inconsistencies, but also its ambitions, aims, and aspirations.

Curated by Manuel Herz and organized by the Vitra Design Museum, Architecture of Independence includes contemporary photography by renowned photographer Iwan Baan and award-winning South African humanitarian photo-documentarian Alexia Webster.

Related Programming:

Thursday, February 16th, 6:00-8:00pm
FamilyDay@theCenter: Make it Modern
Saturday, March 11th, 11:00am-1:00pm or 2:00-4:00pm
Wednesday, March 15, 6:00-8:00pm

Kunlé Adeyemi
Tuesday, April 18, 6:00-8:00pm

African Modernism(s): Past/Present/Future
Saturday, April 22, 1:00-4:00pm

An exhibition on the book project African Modernism: Architecture of Independence by Manuel Herz in cooperation with the Vitra Design Museum.


This exhibition and the public program featuring Iwan Baan are supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.


Additional funding for this exhibition is provided by:
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill 


This exhibition has received funding through a grant from the Netherland-America Foundation.  


This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Image: Independence Arch, Accra, Ghana, by the Public Works Department, 1961 © Alexia Webster

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