Religious iconography has been a part of art history for millennia, and while the subjects painted over time have changed (fewer saints, more personal reflections), it continues to appear in contemporary work. Using Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy as a jumping-off point, curator and critic Simon Njami selected works from 40 African artists that in some way invoke the ideas of heaven, hell, or purgatory. Videos, mixed-media pieces, paintings, and sculptures fill all four floors of the museum, showing how the 14th-century epic poem’s influence has expanded beyond Western cultures. In order to fully explain their inspiration, the artists recorded video messages to accompany their works. Enormous works, like Sudanese painter Pélagie Gbaguidi’s 42-foot canvas, and intimate ones, like haunting photos by Ethiopia’s Aida Muluneh (shown), gain an other-worldly quality in this show. The exhibition is on view daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the National Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 633-4600.