Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art

Jean Borgatti Collection, EEPA 2016-007

Collection ID:
Borgatti, Jean
Physical Description:
3617 Slides (photographs)
35 mm
166 Contact sheets
(2 binders)
3555 Negatives (photographic)
black and white
35 mm
4 Notebooks
(1 box)
1 Cassette tape
(2 boxes)
25 Film reels
Super 8
Jean Borgatti's collection dates from 1971 to 2003 and was created in Nigeria and Ghana. Much of the collection documents masquerades, shrines, festivals, market scenes, and ceremonies, and includes images of Urhobo, Uzairue, Ishan (Esan), Etsako, and Otuo peoples.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Jean Borgatti's collection dates from 1971 to 2003 and is comprised of 3,617 slides, 3,625 negatives, 4 negative books, contact prints, an audio cassette, 25 Super 8 film reels, and 23,425 digtial images. The materials primarily document the Urhobo, Uzairue, Ishan (Esan), Etsako, and Otuo peoples.
Much of the collection depicts masquerades, festivals, and ceremonies, including the Aimhi masquerade, Akpele masquerade, Egbemamu masquerade, Egede masquerade, Egu (Egungun) Akachi masquerade, Ekpenike masquerade, Ekuede masquerade, Erelue Masquerade, Gelede performance, Idu masquerade, Igbagu masquerade, Igo masquerade, Igugu Festival, Ihuen Festival, Iyabana night masquerade, Obanagbedor masquerade, Obonodike masquerade, Ogabadi masquerade, Ogumogu performances, Okwema masquerade, Olimi Festival, Omese masquerade, Opha procession, Otsa masquerade, Otuo masquerade, Ugwonor masquerade, Ukpokolo masquerade, and Wanyoke masquerade. There are also images of title-taking ceremonies and paraphernalia, and shrines, including the Aziza, Ikumuku, Ituke, Okailopokai, Oshun, Ugbe Ebo forest shrines.
Images were taken primarily in Nigeria, including in Lagos, Ibadan, Benin City, Auchi, Owan, Ibadan, Idah, Oshogbo, Otukpo, Gombe state, Bauchi State, Benue Plateau State, Ugboha, Akoko-Edo, Ouidah, Bida, and Kano. Borgatti also photographed the Kumase area and Capecoast in Ghana.

Arranged into 4 series by format. Series 1, 2 and 4 are arranged chronologically and Series 3 is arranged alphabetically.
  • Series 1: Field Slides, 1971-2003
  • Series 2: Negatives, 1971-circa 1979
  • Series 3: Audio and Film Reels, circa 1970s-1982
  • Series 4: Digital Files, circa 1971-2015

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Art historian and photographer Jean Borgatti's research focuses on cross cultural concepts of art and aesthetics, masquerades and festivals, portraiture, the Black Atlantic, and the continuities and discontinuities in African, African Diaspora, Oceanic and Native American art. An active photographer since at least 1971, she has worked primarily in Benin City, Nigeria and areas in northern Edo State, photographing the Okpella people and other Edo North groups.
Borgatti received her B.A. in Art History from Wellesley College (1966) and both her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Art History from UCLA. Since then, she has received fellowships, grants, and awards for research including a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities (1979-1980), a Sainsbury Institute Fellowship at the University of East Anglia (2005), and two Fulbright fellowships (2002-2004, 2014-2016) for lecturing and conducting research in Nigeria. She was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (2014) for her contributions to the field. She taught African and Native American Art History at Clark University for twenty years and has continued her affiliation with Clark as a visiting scholar and research fellow. Additionally, Borgatti has been a visiting scholar of art history and African studies at Boston University (2010-2016).
Borgatti has curated a number of exhibitions, including From the Hands of Lawrence Ajanaku (Museum of Cultural History Gallery UCLA and the African American Institute New York, 1979); Likeness and Beyond: Portraits in Africa and the World (with Richard Brilliant and Alan Wardwell), Center for African Art, New York, and the Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth, 1990); Global Africa: Creativity, Continuity and Change in African Art, 2014-2017, and several museum shows in which African works were placed "in conversation" or "face to face" with works from Asia, Europe, and America throughout the Fitchburg Art Museum (2011-2012). Borgatti has published more than twenty articles on African art with such varied topics as masquerades in Edo North (Nigeria), portraiture in world art, the art market, and individual African artists.
Dr. Borgatti is a consulting curator on African and Oceanic Art at the Fitchburg Art Museum (Massachusetts, 2010-present) and a Professor of Art History, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin (Nigeria, 2013-2017).

Eden Orelove
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Jean Borgatti in 2016.
Processing Information
Finding aid by Eden Orelove, 2019. Metadata for the slides was prepared by Nadia Albeiz and Hannah Storch. Metadata for the negatives was prepared by Kellen Hope and Hannah Storch. Slides were digitized in 2017. Negatives were digitized in 2019.
Four of the slides were blank and are not included in this finding aid: EEPA 2016-007-2808; EEPA 2016-007-3032; EEPA 2016-007-3092; and EEPA 2016-007-3138.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Jean Borgatti Collection, EEPA 2016-007, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Collection contains images of art and museum objects and exhibitions with copyright restrictions.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact Archives staff for more details.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ekperi (African people) Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Urhobo (African people) Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nigeria Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ghana Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Masquerades Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art
National Museum of African Art
P.O. Box 37012
MRC 708
Washington, DC 20013-7012