Olayami Dabls had a grandiose vision to showcase the power of their African culture to his community so created the MBAD African Bead Museum. It houses 18 outdoor installations including the African Bead Gallery, N'kisi House, and African Language Wall.
According to Dabls, African beads are used to communicate specific information about a particular culture and its history, mark a rite of passage, or indicate the wearer’s wealth. He had a need to understand the history of beads and wanted to show them in such a way for people to appreciate their richness and the African history that was attached to them.
He opened the Dabls MBad African Bead Museum in 2002, which covers a whole neighborhood block in Detroit. Visitors can appreciate the elaborate mosaics and murals which cover the century-old row house as well as the surrounding buildings. Hundreds of beads are cataloged in glass jars inside the museum all of this serves the purpose of connecting African history and rituals to the present black American lifestyle.
A few of Dabls masterpieces on display include the Middle Passage Fence, a colorful installation that showcases the slave trade that brought Africans to the Americas. There is an African Language Wall featuring several of the continent's languages painted in red, yellow, orange, and black, referring to Africa’s diversity.
The installations, sculpture gardens, and bead gallery attract thousands of visitors annually from all around the world. The guestbook illustrates the wide array of people interested in this spectacular display of art with signatures from artists, writers, musicians, mothers, and fathers as well as famous Hollywood icons.
Cover Image Photo Credit: Jason Sackey from Pixabay