Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Ph.D.

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Ph.D.

Curator of African Art
Arts of Africa and the Americas Department Head

Department: Arts of Africa and the Americas

Current MIA Projects
  • Curating the upcoming exhibitions “Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone,” opening in September 2014, and “Islamic Africa: Art and Architecture,” opening in March 2016.

  • PhD and MA, University of Chicago
  • MA and BA, University of Louvain, Belgium
Background/Work History
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts since 2008
  • Dissertation, A History and Ethnography of Modernity among the Zande, was based on 14 months of fieldwork among the Zande people of the Central African Republic (CAR), and extensive archival research on Zande colonial history in CAR, France, Belgium, and Great Britain. 
  • Working with African art, mostly as an independent curator for exhibitions and/or catalogues, since 1998
  • Affiliated with such diverse European institutions as the Musée de la Musique in Paris, the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren (Belgium), the Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology) in Hamburg, and the Afrika Museum in Berg-en-Dal (Netherlands)
Specialty/Area of Interest

African art, with a special interest in traditional art of Central Africa; Islamic art in East, North, and West Africa; and museology

Honors and Professional Associations
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the African Immigration Services, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Midwest Art Conservation Center, Minneapolis
  • Member of ACASA (the Arts Council of the African Studies Association)
Selected Exhibitions and Projects
  • Co-curator of the temporary exhibition “Africa Now: Fashioning Personhood,” 2013-14, MIA
  • Curator of the temporary exhibition “Sacred Worship: Contemplating Ethiopian Christian Art and Music,” 2013-14, MIA
  • Curator of the reinstallation of the African Art Galleries, 2013, MIA
  • Curator of the temporary exhibition, “iAfrica: Connecting with Sub-Saharan Art,” 2009-10, MIA
  • "Ritual Recycling: Modern Uses of Ancient Stone Sculptures in the Upper Guinea Forest Region," in Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone, Minneapolis & Seattle, 2014
  • "Unresolved Mysteries: Two Couples from the Ubangi Region," in Fragments of the Invisible: The René and Odette Delenne Collection of Congo Sculpture, Cleveland & Milan, 2013
  • "Mbuti Bark Cloth" and "Zande Bark Cloth," The Berg Fashion Library online, 2012
  • "Snake, Bush, and Metaphor: Twinship among Ubangians," in Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures: Double Trouble, Twice Blessed, Bloomington, 2011
Other Information

I worked for several years as a high-school science teacher in Gabon and Zimbabwe, which triggered my interest in African cultures.