AFRICAN MASKS: Worn for special occasions, private ceremonies such as initiations, or at the celebration of a successful hunt. PHOTO COURTESY ETHAN DANGERWING

Staff Report

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum welcomed a full house to the opening of its latest exhibit, “Thresholds,” a collection of African artifacts and artwork that mark the milestones of a life journey.

The show features pieces from the Spady Museum Collection and special artifacts from the Kay Crawford Collection and Dr. Cecil Jonas Collection.

“Thresholds” is co-curated by Joanne Hamsptead and Khaulah Naima Nuruddin.

Each artifact tells a tale of a “threshold” – such as a birth, initiation, marriage or death – that a person crosses with the assistance and guidance of unique ceremonies, rituals, and artistic expressions.

Several cultures throughout Africa practice passage ceremonies for their young people. A component of the rite is represented in the exhibit with pieces of beaded jewelry from the Nigerian Yoruba tribe. The intricately designed jewelry, which are worn by men and women around their waistlines, indicates their crossing of the spiritual threshold into adulthood.

“The ceremony is an important cultural tradition for the Krobo people and is seen as a way of preserving their heritage. It is also an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the growth and development of their young girls,” said Crawford, owner of several pieces in the exhibit.


Other artifacts include fertility figurines, statutes, a Swahili bench, beaded Nigerian crowns, masks, aloalo (funerary pole sculpture from the Madagascar region), and monumental figures, such as Baga snakes, wooden figurines that beckon in a fertile harvest.

Guests learn about the artifacts’ significance to each of the African cultures they represent and how the engrained rituals were practiced by African people, even as they were dispersed throughout the Diaspora.

“Many of the ceremonies and rituals symbolized by the artifacts in this exhibit made their way to the Americas and are practiced in new ways,” said museum Director Charlene Farrington.

“Our exploration of the old and implementation in new ways is part of the practice of Sankofa, looking back as we move forward.”


“Thresholds” Through Dec. 26

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, 170 NW Fifth Ave., Delray Beach. 

Call 561-279-8883 or visit