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NBMS Media Center: African Mask Project

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African Cultural Groups

Central Africa

Horn of Africa

Southeast Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

Overview of Project

African art was functional and was used as means for expression.  Masks were created for ceremonies, religious activities, funerals, and performances.  A large component of mask design was the desire to communicate with spirits and ancestors.  Masks were often influenced by the appearance of local animals like monkeys, hyenas, and lions.  Sometimes these ferocious animal images were used to frighten bad spirits.  


Although ceremonies involving masks are not as common in Africa as they once were, masks are still looked at as an important part of African culture and are still used in important rituals and celebrations.  


Your Task: We are going to transform our classroom into an African Art museum.  You are being asked to help design an African mask to be displayed in the museum.

  • Research African Masks and the Cultural Group in which the mask is from.  

  • Complete organizer and bibliography and submit it to your teacher via Google Classroom.

  • Write a Curator’s Statement to explain your mask. The statement will accompany your mask in the gallery walk, so it must be submitted in paper with your mask.

Research Databases and Websites