Solutions for Museums, Galleries and Collectors
Displaying African Masks
Mounting African Masks African ritual and ceremonial masks are usually made of wood and have holes along the sides where string or cord was used to hold the mask in place. These holes can be used to mount the mask on a stand or hang on a wall. You could simply run a string or wire through the holes to hang it, or mount it on a base with an armature. The metal wire follows the inside perimeter so it cannot be seen through the openings in the mask such as the eyes and mouth. The wire goes into a hole on each side of the mask to hold it in place. It looks better to bend the post where it comes to the bottom of the mask back and away from the mask, then down to the base. This will add dimension and keeps the post back from the mask. The base is commonly made of metal or other materials can be used such as acrylic or wood. Custom mounting for masks can range from $80 to $400 depending on quality of the mount and size of the mask. Our custom division, 10-31 Inc., has been mounting African masks for over 25 years. They carefully mount the mask with just the right proportions and finesse giving it a very clean look. Another alternative for mounting masks is to do it yourself. Art Display Essentials has stock “T”-arms that can be used for that very purpose. They come as a basic “T” shape that you can bend the arms down and place into the side holes. The height of the post could be adjusted although you would need a hack saw or bolt cutters to cut through the ¼” steel. You can see these “T”-arms here: http://www.artdisplay.com/mask-stand.html Some masks cover both head and face or full headdress. These may be easier to mount by using a base with a post and a fitting on top. The fitting is sometimes custom shaped to correctly fit the piece. There are also stock bases for this situation as well at Art Display Essentials. These stock items can also be used for helmets, hats and other items of that nature. They can be seen here: http://www.artdisplay.com/helmet-hat-stands.html Other masks, including masks that are not African, may be made of metal like copper or bronze; or stone such as jade or steatite. The stock stands may or may not work with these depending on size and weight. However, a custom mount can be made by 10-31 Inc.