The Legend of Kente


 “Wearing kente gives our African ancestry, traditions, and customs a new recognition, a new symbol, a new meaning, and a new relevance globally. It gives us the confidence and pride to walk in the way of our ancestors who have gone before us.”

—Dr. Gifty Afua Benson, collector, and curator

In its cultural context, kente is more than just a cloth. Like many of Africa’s visual art forms, kente is a representation of histories, folklore, philosophies, social values, and religious beliefs. The craftsmanship and cultural significance of authentic forms of the textiles have made them highly sought after and treasured by textile enthusiasts and fashion icons like Louis Vuitton and Vogue magazine.

While kente was originally reserved for use by royalty and limited to special social and sacred functions, it became popularized and liberally adopted by Black people across the African diaspora during the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. It is often used as a silent symbol in protests, graduation ceremonies, social and sacred functions, and wedding ceremonies.

Historically handwoven by the Asante and Ewe ethnic groups in present-day Ghana, kente cloth is heir to a long and rich historical and artisanal tradition. Kente is created using stripweave, an ancient textile technique, where narrow strips of handwoven cotton or silk are stitched together to form a whole finished cloth. Traditionally, Asante and Ewe men took on the role of weaving, using a wooden treadle loom to make long cloth strips before arranging them in an off-set manner of alternating patterns, resulting in a larger elaborate design.

The beauty of kente lies in the details. Each kente cloth has symbolism conveyed through contrasting colors, intricate patterns, and varying designs that have unique names and stories.

All kente is noted for its multicolored warp and weave patterns, and the designs are powerful cultural symbols that can be used as a non-verbal way of storytelling. Two of the most recognizable designs are Fathia Fata Nkrumah, named in 1958 to honor the wedding of Ghana’s prime minister, and The King Has Boarded the Ship, which tells the story of the Asante King Prempeh’s exile to Seychelles in 1896.

Once a royal textile whose use was carefully restricted, kente is now the national cloth of Ghana and an international symbol of pan-Africanism. Its distinct patterns and colors are even often incorporated into contemporary fashion, accessories, and home decor.

The Legend of Kente explores kente as legend and global icon, including over 50 kente weavings, four dresses, an illustrative “making kente” video, and interpretive materials that explore the meanings, symbols, and stories depicted by the weavers. The exhibition offers a multitude of programming opportunities, from weaving activities to creative expression through fashion, art, and community storytelling.

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Exhibition Details

Over 50 textile weavings, 4 dresses, and one video (AV)

(A finalized checklist is in currently in development.)

  • Content

    Fee Includes:
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

    Dr. Gifty Afua Benson

  • Organized By

    Mid-America Arts Alliance, ExhibitsUSA

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee


  • In-Region Rental Fee


  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet


  • Square Feet


  • Security


  • Number of Crates/Total Weight


  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.

Tour Schedule

The Legend of Kente is touring June 2026 through May 2031. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

  • June 16 - August 11, 2026 Griot Museum of Black History & Culture
    St. Louis, MO
  • September 1 - October 20, 2026
  • November 10, 2026 - January 7, 2027
  • January 28 - March 16, 2027 Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
    Moorhead, MN
  • April 6 - May 25, 2027
  • June 16 - August 11, 2027
  • September 1, 2027- January 7, 2028 Irving Archives & Museum
    Irving, TX
  • January 28 - March 16, 2028
  • April 6 - May 25, 2028
  • June 16 - August 11, 2028 Refurbishment at Mid-America Arts Alliance
    Kansas City, MO
  • September 1 - October 20, 2028
  • November 10, 2028 - January 7, 2029
  • January 28 - March 16, 2029
  • April 6 - May 25, 2029
  • June 16 - August 11, 2029
  • September 1 - October 20, 2029
  • November 10, 2029 - January 7, 2030
  • January 28 - March 16, 2030
  • April 6 - May 25, 2030
  • June 16 - August 11, 2030
  • September 1 - October 20, 2030
  • November 10, 2030 - January 7, 2031
  • January 28 - March 16, 2031
  • April 6 - May 25, 2031

Downloads & Resources

To view and download the factsheet for The Legend of Kente, click HERE.