Met Fifth Ave. Photo: Kate Glicksberg

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has named a new Research Associate in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing who will be instrumental in creating new digital and in-gallery content—a collaborative project with World Monuments Fund (WMF)—that will reframe the Museum’s African art galleries. Sosena Solomon, an award-winning social documentary film and multimedia visual artist from Ethiopia, will join the department for one year to research and design content relating to major cultural landmarks and heritage sites across Africa. Solomon’s work with the The Met’s curatorial team will draw upon archives at World Monuments Fund’s headquarters in New York City and include filming with caretakers at historic sites in situ.

“In the Museum’s new Africa galleries, this initiative will afford a critical bridge with the extraordinary yet relatively unfamiliar architectural landmarks that are foundational to an appreciation of African art and the continent’s many-layered history,” said Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator for African Art and Curator in Charge of The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. “In addition to imparting an understanding of the significance and originality of these monuments within an expansive survey, we seek to foreground the importance of those sites to the caretakers dedicated to their preservation and revitalitzation, and to highlight the projects that World Monuments Fund has supported in the region.”  

Ms. Solomon added, “The objective for a cultural institution like The Met is to expand public awareness of our shared responsibility to manage world heritage. This platform will provide a revelatory opportunity to hear and learn firsthand from practitioners, who are the caretakers of treasures of humankind situated in communities across the continent.”

The new digital platform, created in collaboration with World Monuments Fund, will be placed at regular intervals throughout the new African galleries in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing and will provide a more comprehensive understanding of Africa’s diverse cultural landscapes and some 20 historic sites in sub-Saharan Africa, many of which are currently inaccessible to most visitors. Solomon will assemble content relating to each of the landmark conservation projects; topics will range from the architectural significance of the site to the preservation measures developed. She will document current efforts by local communities to maintain these living traditions and conduct interviews with the caretakers of these landmarks that will be translated into digital content for the galleries and website.

“World Monuments Fund is thrilled to embark on this pilot project with The Met that will provide an array of individual, local perspectives on the importance of cultural heritage and conservation at some of the many sites across the continent where WMF has worked on the ground with local communities for years,” said WMF President and CEO Bénédicte de Montlaur. “By highlighting and preserving heritage that truly reflects the diversity of creative voices of humanity, cultural heritage can play a transformative role in building a more
inclusive society.”

The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at The Met closed to the public in the summer of 2021 to begin a major renovation project that will reenvision its collections for a new generation of visitors. The galleries—40,000 square feet on the Museum’s south side—will be overhauled and reimagined to reintroduce the department’s three distinct collections of African art, ancient American art, and Oceanic art, displaying them as discrete elements in an overarching wing that is in dialogue with the Museum’s collection as a whole. The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing is scheduled to reopen in 2025.

About Sosena Solomon
Solomon is a social documentary film and multimedia visual artist whose work—whether a film or an immersive 3-dimensional installation experience—explores cross sections of various subcultures and communities in flux, carefully teasing out cultural nuances and capturing personal narratives through arresting visual storytelling. Solomon has worked for many years in the commercial and nonprofit sectors as a director and cinematographer on many short film projects, including Sole, a documentary on sneaker culture that premiered on PBS affiliate MINDTV; Dreaming of Jerusalem, a Discovery-plus original documentary about the Ethiopian Jewish community in Gondar; and MERKATO, filmed on location in one of Africa’s largest open-air markets and exhibited internationally as an audio, visual, and sensory installation.

Solomon earned a Master of Fine Arts in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Television Production from Temple University. She is a recipient of the Leeway Foundation Art and Change grant (2013) and the Transformation Award (2014). Solomon is currently lecturing on video topics in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Pennsylvania Stewart Weitzmann School of Design.

About The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met presents art from around the world and across time for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

About World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich lives and build mutual understanding. For more than 55 years, working at more than 700 sites in 112 countries, its highly skilled experts have applied proven and effective techniques to the preservation of important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the globe. Through the World Monuments Watch—a biennial, nomination-based program—WMF uses cultural heritage conservation to empower communities and improve well-being. In partnership with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to stewardship for future generations. Headquartered in New York City, the organization has offices and affiliates worldwide. wmf.org