The Society of African Missions, a Roman Catholic missionary organization, opened the African Art Museum of the SMA Fathers at Tenafly in 1980 with the aim of celebrating the history and art of sub-Saharan Africa. The museums is one of only five such museums founded by the Society and one of a only a handful museums in the country dedicated to African art. The museum presents its collection in rotating exhibits. Its works of art include sculptures, paintings, textiles and decorative arts, all of which depict various religious and folklore motifs as well as aspects of warfare and daily life.
The Society's founder, Bishop Melchoir de Marion Brésillac (1813-1859), encouraged society members to respect the various cultures they encountered in Africa.