Bellefonte ART Museum for Families of Centre County
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

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Now in the Windows on the World Gallery


January - April: "Masquerade - Ceremonial and Traditional Masks from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas"


Opening reception and children's art activity, Sunday, January 13, 2013, 1 to 4:30 pm Children will have the opportunity to make their own masks on Sunday, Jan 13th and on Sunday, Feb 3 rd. The museum is open from 1 to 4:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and by appointment. Classes and groups are welcome.


"The exhibition is an opportunity to view cultural works from many regions of four continents. The masks may be appreciated for their artistic creation and as an expression of cultural." Patricia House, Director, Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County.


For centuries masquerades have been used to recognize and celebrate human and natural events like the passages in life, changing seasons, and spiritual powers. In some cultures secret societies exist to provide a group for camaraderie and political force. These groups often have ceremonies that include masquerade and use the events to appeal to high powers for both assistance and as expressions of thankfulness. In the past, masks also provided a way for persons of different classes to party together. Mardi-gras masking made it possible for everyone to join together in the celebrate before the religious season of lent.


Masks are an ancient means of disguise. The urge to transform ourselves has coexisted with the development of human society.  The ability to change from human form and become an animal, monster, mythical creature or spiritual being has been used by shamans and priests in animistic religions to demonstrate their power to contact the spiritual world.


Many societies continue to use masks for dances and celebrations- we celebrate Halloween by masking who we are and taking another identity; perhaps the use of a veil by brides is a kind of masking. Awed by the power of the natural world, many societies use masks and dances to represent the forces of the environment.


This exhibition will include masks from cultures of the America's, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The variety of designs, materials and images speak to the great diversity of cultures and to the richness of the human imagination.


Revised 1/08/2012