The Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts celebrates the extensive cultural traditions and artistic expression of countries in West Africa. Its contents range from domestic and ceremonial utensils to contemporary fine art, and it is one of the finest collections of its kind in Europe. The collection is an active teaching resource in the University, including woodcarving, metalwork, pottery, textiles, painting and domestic and votive objects.
The nucleus of the collection was brought together between 1943 and 1957 by John Danford O.B.E., an artist who was also a British Council representative in Nigeria. In the late 1950s Danford lent the collection to University College, Ibadan, Nigeria. By the mid-1960s he moved it to the University of Birmingham’s Centre of West African Studies, now the Department of Anthropology and African Studies. The strength of the collection lies mainly in the Yoruba material Danford assembled while in Ibadan in the early 1950s, stemming from his role as a patron of artists such as Bamgboye and Lamidi Fakeye. Their magnificent sculpted masquerade headpieces, house posts and divination bowls form the centrepiece of this beautiful collection.
The collection has continued to grow through gifts, bequests and loans from other donors, including Sister Evelyn Bellamy, Pete Tunley and W. A. Cadbury.