From the Museum

Elephant Table (MO 1971.46)


This wooden table with base consisting of a carved figure of an elephant (with ivory eyes) was used by Eleanor Roosevelt in her East 74th Street apartment in New York City (see photo below).

The table was presented to the First Lady at the “Festival of Dance and Music” for the African Academy of Arts and Research in New York City on April 26, 1946. In her “My Day” newspaper column for that day, Mrs. Roosevelt said of the Festival, “The language of the drums, which is the oldest language in the world, is always fascinating to me, and I must say that the rhythm is very hard for anyone to resist.”

Mrs. Roosevelt mentioned this table in her autobiography published in 1958, “On My Own.” She noted that it was given to her “by a boy from Nigeria who was then a student in this country but now is finance minister in his own land.” Mrs. Roosevelt was referring to Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe, who was President of the African Academy of Arts and Research in 1945 while also attending Columbia University. He later went on to become Nigeria’s Minister of Commerce in 1957.