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Press Coverage

The Block Museum is frequently featured in national, regional and local media. See top stories below, or view an archive of past coverage.

The addition of Janet Dees (Steven and Lisa Munster Tananbaum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art) and Kathleen Bickford Berzock (Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs) to the Block Museum curatorial staff, in 2015 and 2013, respectively, has been a blessing to the university’s exhibition schedule. Under their curatorial expertise, the Block has made good on their mission to display visual art that looks broadly across cultures and time periods. Earlier this year, “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa,” had the biggest opening day in the museum’s history. Curated by Berzock, the exhibition was eight years in the making, and involved thirty-two lenders from six countries. Dees is at work on a 2021 exhibition that hopes to put contemporary conversations around anti-black violence into a historical context. Dees was a 2018 recipient of a curatorial fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and was recently named an affiliate of Northwestern University’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research.”
Kerry Cardoza, August 29, 2019
Michigan Avenue Magazine
“It’s going to be bold, bright and interesting too, because it’s pop art thatpeople just aren’t as familiar with,” says Corinne Granof, Block’s curator of academic programs”
Kyle Macmillan, September 2019
"Today it’s hard to throw a stone and not hit an art space of sorts—whether it’s in someone’s garage, apartment or a gallery or a museum proper. But, despite this ever-burgeoning community, Chicago still doesn’t get its due for being a global arts hub."”
Kerry Cardoza, July 17, 2019
Omenka Magazine
"My job, as curator, has been to aggregate, organise, filter, and shape the story into one that is comprehensible in the form of an exhibition. One of the most exciting aspects of the project has been to work with archaeologists and institutions in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria who are excavating sites and preserving their countries’ cultural heritages. ”
Interview with Oliver Enwonwu and Oyindamola Olaniyan, July 11, 2019
The New York Review of Books
Part of the difficulty in conveying the importance of this region’s history has been its paucity of documentation, and the exhibition and its catalog make up for this spectacularly with their display of the region’s legacy of artifacts, from pottery shards to sculpture and gold weights and coins.”
Howard W. French, June 27, 2019 issue
Art in America
'Caravans of Gold' tells stories of exchange and of beauty, bringing African artisans, travelers, and tradespeople into the role usually occupied in our culture by heroic knights of medieval fiction. It replaces a vision of the Sahara as an empty space with the truth of the Sahara as a venue for movement and the generation of wealth. It replaces the blank spots in our historical vision with the simple fact of African people’s existence in and relevance to the medieval world. If this is the only lesson visitors take away with them from the Block out into the contemporary world and every museum they visit afterward, it will have been enough.”
Josephine Livingstone, April 1 2019
The New York Times
Caravans of Gold is the first major exhibition addressing the scope of Saharan trade and the shared history of West Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe from the eighth to 16th centuries. Displaying more than 250 artworks, the exhibition features loans from partner institutions in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria, many of which are being seen in North America for the first time.”
Kerry Hannon, March 12, 2019
Even more, [Caravans of Gold] subtly raises up the entire African continent, which becomes through this retelling, a force of profound socioeconomic change at the global level. As their handout highlights: 'Journey to a medieval world with Africa at its center.'”
Seph Rodney, March 15, 2019
Chicago Magazine
It’s rare for American art museums to work with African lenders, because the institutional structures are so different from our own. Caravans of Gold stretches across regions and fields of study, and the loans required multiple visits to Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria.”
Jason Foumberg, January 22, 2019
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts will award a total of $413,500 in curatorial research fellowships as part of its fall 2018 cycle, the highest amount since the program began in 2008.”
January 23, 2019
Chicago Tribune
It packs the museum’s 4,000 square feet with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts — and, as the title suggests, pieces of ancient artifacts — borrowed from African museums, the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, among some two dozen lenders.”
Steve Johnson, January 23, 2019