MMAC Opens African Art Exhibition


The Montana Museum of Art and Culture will exhibit “Homage to Africa: The Hoyt and Shepherd Collections” from February 5th to April 21st in the Paxson and Meloy Galleries in UM’s PARTV Center. These two Montana-based private collections reveal the richness and splendor of African art in the post-colonial period and the diverse world views of the distinct societies that created it.

UM alumnus Tony Hoyt has been collecting African art since his youth. A large part of his collection was acquired by his mother, Dorothy Hoyt, a founder of the Ithaca College Museum. Much of the collection, particularly masks used in elaborate masquerades, came from his time in the Peace Corps in Liberia in 1967-1969. Another portion came from Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal member Doug Allard, long-time collector and purveyor of art from beyond the Western tradition.

The Hoyt Collection, focused on the centrality of art in its ceremonial context, has been researched and studied extensively by UM art history students over the last decade.

UM Law School alumna and textile artist Molly Shepherd has been collecting African art for over thirty years. At the core of her collection are exquisite textiles created by the Kuba peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other functional items from Ethiopia and eastern central Africa. She prefers “the abstract to the representational…the challenge of ambiguity, unpredictability and surprise” in African art. Addressing her collecting, Shepherd states: “Some quality in the work touches us and sustains our attention, resonates within us in a way that may be difficult to articulate or resist. It’s not unlike falling in love.”

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there is no public reception scheduled for this exhibition. Visit our website at for virtual docent tours. Socially-distanced tours can be scheduled by contacting Jill Johns at 406-243-4970 or e-mailing:


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