We were lucky enough to visit the marvellous Afrika Museum, near Nijmegen in the Netherlands. The museum has indoor and outdoor displays, concentrating on the culture and art of the countries of this vast and fascinating continent, including Sudan and Kenya,Mali and Benin, Gabon, Cameroon and Ghana. The outside area has reconstructions of villages from different places and it’s interesting seeing them together as you wouldn’t in reality, to compare the homes of people from different parts of Africa.
As the museum web-site says “The Afrika Museum has a unique collection of traditional and contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora (Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and the United States, to name but a few)”. The displays demonstrate how objects are perceived in different ways at different times in a society’s history, and in different ways by an outside or alien culture. Now many of these artefacts would be described as art but this wouldn’t necessarily have been how they were originally perceived. Different religions and cultural traditions shaped these objects, and we probably have little understanding of that and so perceive them and interpret them in our own way.
The museum also includes contemporary African art, and art from the peoples of the African diaspora which was a fascinating contrast to the older items on display.
Have a look at the museum’s excellent website: