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Golden Opportunities: The Marian Ashby Johnson Collection

Marian Ashby Johnson’s donation to the National Museum of African Art showcases the delicate and refined work of the Wolof and Tukulor goldsmiths of Senegal. Building on extensive fieldwork and interviews starting in the mid-1960s, as well as museum and archival research in London, Chicago, Paris, and Senegal, Johnson assembled a unique collection of jewelry, accompanied by an archive of over 2,000 study images.

Together, they provide an almost encyclopedic overview of Senegalese taste and the role of gold jewelry in Senegal’s cultural, economic, and political history. Johnson’s research looks at the Bambouk goldfields of the Senegal River, documents the techniques, materials, and social class of goldsmiths (teugues), and reveals the inspirational and economic roles of women in commissioning, trading, and fashioning Senegalese jewelry. Johnson’s detailed research and generous gift provide a golden opportunity to understand the breadth and complexity of gold in Senegal.
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