Tom McNemar was at the British Museum in London researching his dissertation topic when his life became waylaid by cases of African art. Every day he stopped by to see if anything new was added. Finally, the head African curator was apprised of the frequent visitor, called him in, and gave him full access to the collection storage plus a letter of introduction to African collections on both continents. Smitten, Tom left for Africa in the early 1960s, stayed for over a decade while making his home in the Ivory Coast. Upon returning home to the States, accompanied by his vast collection, he established the McNemar Gallery of African Art in New York City. Eventually he returned to his childhood home, Lexington, Virginia, where he continues dealing in African art.
While living in New York, Mr. McNemar became friends with artist Barton Lidice Benes. They soon began to trade: African art for contemporary works by Barton. He introduced Tom to the Museum. The collection deepens our audience’s experience by placing contemporary art within the context of other times, other places, and other traditions.