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The Nasher Museum's African holdings number around 300 objects, with strengths in works from Nigeria, particularly from the Yoruba peoples and a group of 172 rare masks and objects from Liberia donated to Duke in 1974 by Dr. George Harley, a Duke-trained physician, missionary and anthropologist, who was one of the first persons to collect masks and objects of the Mano and to bring them out of Africa beginning in the 1920's. His influential articles published in the Papers of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, "Notes on the Poro in Liberia" (1941) and "Masks as Agents of Social Control in Northeast Liberia" (1950) remain standard references. The Duke University Special Collections Library is the repository of Harley's archival papers, dating from 1925-1960, which document his experiences in Africa.

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University owns more than 10,000 works of art. As part of its mission, the Nasher Museum created this online database to make its collections accessible to a wide audience. This is an ongoing project, so please check back periodically to browse new entries. Some data may change as a result of ongoing research.