The permanent display exhibits the traditional arts of a number of West African societies and includes authentic objects that belong to the cultures of the Bambara, Dogon, Marka, Malinke, Mosi, Bobo, Kissi, Baga, Dan, Gere, Senoufo, Baule and Ashanti. Exhibited according to material type and geographic provenance, the objects on permanent display reflect the artistic heritage of sedentary communities who based their subsistence on farming and hunting.
The architects Saveta and Slobodan Mašić designed the showcases and overall interior, i.e. the presentation of the permanent exhibition, while the concept of the permanent display designed by the ethnologist and first director of the Museum, Jelena Aranđelović-Lazić. The showpieces were organized according to geographic and ethnic groups, and presented as such, with educational lables and photographs that create a certain kind of African scenography. Introducing the objects to the visitor from both an ethnological and aesthetic perspecitve, was part of the modern exhibiting politics of the time. The showpieces were presented with longer and shorter labels informing about the origin, ethnic affiliation and function of objects, creating a specific framework of knowledge about their basic use, as well as their role and importance within the community from which they stem. As the description of the objects was reduced in comparison to classic ethnographic exhibitions, the viewer is left with the option to observe every showpiece from its aesthetic, that is, artistic side, as well. Such a manner of presentation is actually the combination of the aesthetic and ethnographic approach in museological practice of presenting non-European art and culture through its artifacts.