Published On: Wed, Sep 13th, 2023

The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum presents Thresholds: An Exhibit of Black Cultural Legacy Artifacts


Through December 26, 2023

Delray Beach, FL – On August 25, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum proudly 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 the Dr. Cecil Jonas Collection. Thresholds is co-curated by Joanne Hamsptead and Khaulah Naima Nuruddin.

In the exhibiteach carefully curated 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.

For example, 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 will 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. Our exploration of the old and implementation in new ways is part of the practice of Sankofa, looking back as we move forward,” said Museum Director Charlene Farrington.



Through December 26, 2023

Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

About the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
Opened in 2001, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is the only cultural center of its kind in Palm Beach County. Located at 170 NW Fifth Avenue in Delray Beach, it is dedicated to showcasing the contributions of the African Diaspora to Florida and the U.S. Programs include exhibitions, museum tours, and community events. Hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; Mondays by appointment. Closed Sundays. Admission: $20; Members are free. For more information, call 561-279-8883 or visit

  • African Masks

African masks primarily serve two functions. One purpose was public, where the mask would be worn for special occasions, such as agricultural, funerary and wedding ceremonies. The second purpose for donning a mask would be to participate in private ceremonies, like initiations. Masks may also be used at the celebration of a successful hunt to honor the animals and the hunters, the occasion of passing tradition down to younger generations, casting spells to ward off evil spirits, to welcome visiting guests, and in the healing of the sick. Courtesy of the Kay Crawford Collection

  • Beaded Crowns

Yoruba beaded crowns were worn by the king and his courtiers and were often given as presents to important visitors. The sacred power of the Oba (leader) and his divine status are expressed not only by the vitality of the design of beaded crowns, but also by the veil of beads that serves to separate the king from the world of mortals. Courtesy of the Kay Crawford Collection

  • Fertility Figures

Also known as Power Figures, the Fertility Figures – both male and female – were carved to harvest the divine masculine/feminine energy to strengthen the community in times of strife and to produce abundance. Resting on the wooden table, there are fertility figures from the Congo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leon. Courtesy of the Kay Crawford Collection.

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