The Bowie State University Art Collection is a diverse collection of art and artifacts that reflect the art of African Americans, as well as cultural expressions from parts of Africa and South America.
The core of the BSU Art Collection was formed by works donated by James C. Mason of the world-renowned Smith-Mason collection and works donated by Warren Henry Brown Jr., a career diplomat and professor emeritus of Bowie State University.
The Smith-Mason Gallery is generally recognized as the one of the first galleries in the Washington, DC to dedicate itself to the support and promotion of art by African American artists during the 1960s.
The collection reflects a diversity of styles ranging from realism to non-objective abstract art. There is also a wide variety of media represented, including oils, acrylics, pen and inks, printmaking, watercolors, collage, copper repousse, and sculpture. Works are by many well-known artists as well as lesser-known artists. A partial list includes James A. Porter, James L. Wells., Elizabeth Catlett, Peter Robinson, Leon Hicks and Keith Morrison.
The donated collection of Warren Brown reflects from areas where he served in U.S. embassies in Southern Africa, Libya, Ghana, and Guatemala, as well as areas in the Middle East. There is an extensive collection of shona sculpture from Southern Africa including internationally known sculptors Boira Mteki and Joseph Ndandarika. There are also paintings and works of paper by African artists Kuire Msangi and Charles Mungolo, among others. Other media include copper repousse from Africa and South America, as well as carvings and reliefs in wood, stone and metals.
Recent acquisitions of African art include a generous donation from Lydia Robbins, widow of the late Warren Robbins, founder of the National Museum of African Art.