The Field Museum curates 160,000 objects representing more than 100 individual accessions of African material culture. The first accession processed by the newly founded Field Columbian Museum in 1893 consisted of ethnographic objects collected by Edouard Remenyi in Africa between 1887 and 1890. African collections are still being acquired by The Field Museum, the latest being a large collection of Zulu objects that arrived in 1999.
The Field Museum's ethnographic material culture from southern Africa, defined here as the region south of the Zambezi and Cunene Rivers, is important because it includes some of the earliest artistic expressions known in Africa. Curated by Dr. Chap Kusimba, the collection includes Bantu musical instruments, wooden Barotse figurines, Basuto garments, Bushman/Bantu arrows, quivers, and digging sticks, Mfengu and Ndebele clothing, Nguni jewelry, and a huge collection of Zulu artifacts ranging from beerpots to belts, snuff containers to spears.