Los Angeles County Museum Of Art Inaugurates African Gallery

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Royal Museum for Central Africa, RG 22725, photo R. Asselberghs, RMCA Tervuren

The Los Angeles County Museum Of Art is inaugurating its new Africa gallery with an exhibition of art from the Luba Kingdom.

“Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” examines the royal art of the powerful Luba Kingdom, which from 1585-1889 dominated central Africa. Its royal lineage was highly regarded and developed an elaborate artwork to reflect its prestige.
The exhibition includes many objects loaned by the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium, like this mask of a legendary hero. Many of the items depict women. While they didn’t rule, they were considered the spiritual guardians of the kingship and the creators of life. A Luba proverb says, “Men are chiefs in the daytime, but women are chiefs at night.” Among the works of art are masks, headrests, sceptres, thrones and cups.

The new Africa gallery is located next to the Egyptian gallery to highlight the influences the two regions had on one another. In addition to special exhibitions, the gallery will also host the museum’s permanent collection.

“Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” runs until January 5, 2014.

La Brea Tar Pits: A New Bubbling Discovery

One of the more interesting sites of the modern world meeting up with the prehistoric one that I’ve ever seen is in the section of Los Angeles where the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits are within walking distance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and high rise buildings. The prehistoric dates back to 40,000 years according to the oldest bone fragment found in the pits.

Recently, the La Brea Tar Pits have shown up on the radar screen of interesting facts. If you’ve ever been there, you’ve seen the black tar bubble and perhaps thought about the animals trapped here before the last Ice Age. Bones of 600 animals have been recovered and are on display in at the Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits at the site. Dire wolfs, saber-toothed cats, Shasta ground sloths, a Columbian mammoth and an American mastodon are part of the bounty. The reason why there are so many? Think food chain. One sloth gets stuck and along comes a dire wolf to get dinner. Then comes the saber-tooth and so on.

Turns out the bubbling is caused by bacteria and not oil production that was thought to be happening 1,000 feet below the sticky, black goo. The bacteria feeds on the petroleum of this natural asphalt at the site and burp methane gas.