A woman holds a camera and films another woman speaking in front of an earthen building
Blog Post

Travelogue: On the Ground with The Met and WMF in West Africa

A woman holds a camera and films another woman speaking in front of an earthen building

Dear friends,

Earlier this year, I traveled to Liberia and Ghana as part of a trip coordinated by World Monuments Fund (WMF) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The interviews, ceremonies, and site footage captured by Met Research Associate and award-winning filmmaker Sosena Solomon during our travels will be displayed in The Met, complementing its sub-Saharan African art by providing context in the voices of local people.

Our first destination was Providence Island, an island in the center of Monrovia that Indigenous communities used as a place for schooling and ceremonies before American settlers arrived in what is now Liberia. Though older residents remember Providence Island fondly, the site has been cut off from the mainland since Liberia’s Civil War. Now, community members are calling for restored access to the space as a symbol of post-war reconciliation.

Next, our trip took us to Kumasi, Ghana, once the capital of the Asante Kingdom. Today, the area around Kumasi is home to the few traditional Asante earthen buildings that still survive. After naming Asante Traditional Buildings to the World Monuments Watch in 2012, we did so again in 2022, and our current project revolves around the stabilization of Adako Jachie Shrine for continued local community use and to begin welcoming tourists. We also had the privilege of speaking to Abirem Shrine’s resident priestess. Traditional religious authorities like her play a key part in shrine upkeep, but their dwindling number poses a challenge for maintenance of the earthen structures.

The last stop on my itinerary was Accra, where I visited the WEB DuBois community library and museum, the last home and final resting place of the acclaimed Black intellectual. A building by Adjaye Associates is in the works to complement DuBois’s former house, which now serves as a popular community library. While in Accra, I also had the opportunity to speak with local heritage advocates and visit potential future Watch sites to expand WMF’s partnerships in Ghana.

I am grateful to those I traveled with and those I met along the way—and I’m excited to experience Sosena’s extraordinary film and audio in The Met’s galleries soon. For more details on WMF’s partnership with The Met, I invite you to read our press release.


Jonathan Bell

Vice President of Programs