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Crossing the Sahara Desert from the 8th to the 16th centuries, caravans with hundreds of camels carried gold, textiles, jewelry and other goods across the desert. To share this little-known story, the Block Museum of Art has put together Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time — a first-of-its-kind show that celebrates West Africa’s historic and under-recognized global significance and showcases the objects and ideas that were exchanged at the crossroads of Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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caravans opener recrop
One of the greatest caravans to ever cross the Sahara was led by Mansa Musa, the legendary ruler of the vast West African empire of Mali. In 1324 Musa embarked on a hajj, a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, traveling with an entourage that included 8,000 courtiers, 12,000 servants and 100 camel loads of pure gold.

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mansa musa
Five floors up from the cacophony that is Chicago’s West Loop, inside a stone-still hearing room at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Chicago Immigration Court, where the ratcheted-up nerves and quickened breaths make for the sort of place you do not want to be, Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe ’96 is there to get the job done.

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uzoamaka opener col
Stylish students fashion their unique looks with everything from thrift store treasures to mom and dad hand-me-downs. For some, getting dressed is like painting a picture.

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saul osorio
Members of the Chicago-area Native American community and representatives of Sand Creek Massacre descendants gathered on campus to share reflections at a bonfire and a panel discussion.

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sand creek moment

Jump for Joy

Spring 2019
Anthony Gaines celebrates an emphatic dunk during the Wildcats’ exhibition opener in the debut of the new Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Northwestern facility received $110 million in upgrades.

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welsh ryan moment
On the outer edge of the color spectrum of visible light lies a mysterious place on the far side of violet. As red morphs to orange and then fades to yellow and so on, the wavelengths become shorter and shorter.

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vadim backman in lab
Record producer-songwriter-mixer Thom Russo knows talent when he hears it. Last spring his manager sent him two songs recorded by a 20-year-old student who’s attending the Brit School, a free performing arts and technology academy in south London.

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russo soundboard
Throughout a life dedicated to education and the struggle for equality, Johnnetta Cole ’59 MA, ’67 PhD, ’92 H has drawn on her training as an anthropologist to ask fundamental questions about humankind.Questions like “What makes us similar and different?” and “Where do systems of inequality come from?” have shaped a remarkable career in education and the arts. “Even today, when I’m not teaching cultural anthropology and doing fieldwork in some part of the world, I continue to wear what is like a pair of glasses — anthropological lenses through which I see and try to understand the world,” Cole says.

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johnnetta cole 2018 alumni medalist

Roots

Fall 2018
It was the majestic oak trees near the shore of Lake Michigan that caught Orrington Lunt’s eye on his first visit to the land that today is Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. “The thought first struck me that here was where the high and dry ground began,” Lunt, one of the University’s founders, later wrote.

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old oak student gathering 1880