Exhibitions Archive

27 October 2012 -
11 May 2014

MINKISI Art and Belief in West and Central Africa


Minkisi was created from a collection of West and Central African statues and masks owned by Whanganui collector Desmond Bovey. Dramatic and provocative, Minkisi provides a new and exciting range of experiences for discerning museum visitors.




Minkisi is a word that refers to statues that hold a spirit, or which embody a purpose meant for the good of an individual or group of people. The pieces are dramatic and intriguing, inviting us to explore the creativity of the human mind in seeking solutions and healing in everyday life.

They are also confrontational. Studded with nails and shards of glass and metal, it is all too easy for people who have little experience of or contact with African belief systems to be repelled. Don’t be. Minkisi keep evil at bay; they are not evil in themselves.
As our Museum begins to take on a more global role in delivering messages about cultures, traditions, histories and beliefs, we offer visitors opportunities to learn, to admire and to think about the place of Africa in the world, and contrast it to our own place in the world.
The power of African art and expression has remained a constant fascination for Des Bovey, who collected these works while living in France and Africa for many years. His knowledge and passion for African cultures provide us with a unique opportunity to explore other cultures as well as ourselves. Experience an exhibition that is profoundly different on a visual level and raises new questions for the viewer on an emotional and intellectual level.
Listen to a National Radio interview with Des Bovey for the Arts on Sunday programme click here

View Diane Harries artist interpretation of the statues and mask on the Minkis Facebook page click here