Intentionally placed between Tusher African Hall’s wildlife dioramas, a new installation by Tanzanian-American artist Walter Kitundu infuses the space with an example of contemporary urban life on the continent.

Iconic animals. Exquisite ecosystems. Lush landscapes. To much of the Western imagination, Africa is often considered as little more than a scenic backdrop for its wildlife—not home to a third of the world’s languages and a billion-plus residents. In Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow), artist Walter Kitundu asserts the continent’s multidimensionality, diversity, and humanity.

Appearing as a storefront in the bustling city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Kitundu’s installation evokes the feeling of a present-day business whose shopkeeper has momentarily stepped away: colorful household goods tempt passers-by, a Tanzanian radio station plays, signage and posters in Swahili ground us in time and place. Surrounded by Tusher African Hall’s dioramas of antelopes, zebras, and big cats, the piece exists in dynamic tension with its setting—which is precisely the point. By interrupting a familiar presentation of Africa’s biodiversity, Kitundu urges us to thoughtfully examine the presence of humanity as part of the continent's natural and social futures.

This exhibit closed November 26, 2023.

Detail of Leo na Kesho art installation with baskets of colorful flip-flops for sale

About the installation

Learn more about the inspiration behind Walter Kitundu’s Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow) in English, Swahili, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino.

Portrait of artist Walter Kitundu in brown hat and suit

About the artist

Walter Kitundu is a Tanzanian-American multidisciplinary artist and educator. He creates sculpture, sound installations, and large-scale public artworks that address place, history, nature, and community. Kitundu also builds extraordinary musical instruments and mechanical devices when he isn’t obsessively documenting the natural world as a bird photographer. Kitundu is the director of Kitundu Studio, which focuses on the development and installation of public art works. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 and is also an Academy Osher Fellow.

Looking down the middle of Tusher African Hall with dioramas on the side and penguin habitat at the end

Updating Tusher African Hall

Title walls help introduce and contextualize exhibitions for museum guests—and sometimes they’re due for a refresh. As part of the opening of Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow), we’ve updated Tusher African Hall’s title wall with important information about Africa’s built environment, linguistic diversity, and the legacy of colonialism across the continent.

Antelope specimens covered in plastic in diorama in African Hall

Reckoning with the past

In two thought-provoking videos, hear from the Academy’s collection managers on the history of our dioramas and scientific specimens, and explore the museum’s colonial origins with Head Librarian Rebekah Kim.