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14 Breathtakingly Beautiful Museums in Africa

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Wikimedia Commons

We’ve featured museums from Europe, North America, South America and Asia, so our exploration of the most stunning museums from around the world now takes us to Africa. Here are 13 absolutely lovely locations.

1. Rova of Antananarivo: Antananarivo, Madagascar

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Rova of Antananarivo is closed for renovations right now, but it has served as a museum since the French colonized the country in 1896. Before that, the massive structure served as a home to the country’s royalty ever since 1610. In 1995, a fire caused massive damage to numerous structures on the property and the 1,466 undamaged pieces of the museum’s collection had to be moved to the Andafiavaratra Palace that was once home to the nation’s Prime Minister.

After the renovations are completed, the Rova of Antananarivo will resume its role as the area’s primary history museum.

2. Iziko South African Museum: Cape Town, South Africa

Photos Courtesy of Wikipedia user Discott

This museum was open to the public in 1825, making it the country's first. It moved into its current location in 1897, and the museum offers exhibits on a variety of subjects including zoology, paleontology, and archaeology.

3. Children’s Civilization and Creativity Center: Cairo, Egypt

Photos Courtesy of WIkipedia user Mallarch

Cairo’s children’s museum was opened to the public in 2012. A trip to the museum begins with a look at the Nile and how the famous river has changed throughout the millennia. Through the journey, children learn about dinosaurs, early man, modern animals, and Egyptian history. There is also an area that focuses on the future of science and outer space. Outside, the museum hosts a garden filled with living birds, butterflies, and fish, along with an outdoor excavation area.

4. Red Castle Museum: Tripoli, Libya


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Also known as the Archaeological Museum of Tripoli, the Red Castle Museum is named after the historic building in which it's located. Part of the castle was converted into the museum in 1919, and by 1948 the museum extended into the rest of the structure. Its collection spans 5,000 years, up until and including the mid-20th century.

5. CP Nel Museum: Oudtshoorn, South Africa


Photo Courtesy of South African Tourism

Originally a school hall constructed in 1913 by Johannes Egbertus Vixseboxse, the CP Nel Museum features some of the finest stone masonry in the entire country and was named a national monument in 1981. The primary focus of the museum is on ostriches and the important role their farming plays in the local community, although the region's general history is covered as well.

6. Royal Jewelry Museum: Alexandria, Egypt

Photo Courtesy of Roland Unger

While it remains closed to the public since the revolution of 2011, the Royal Jewelry Museum remains a lovely attraction in Alexandria even if only viewed from the outside. The building is the former palace of Princess Fatma Al-Zahra, which was secured by the Egyptian government after the country’s revolution of 1952. The museum opened in 1986 to display the jewelry of the last royal family of Egypt, along with their extensive collection of art and sculptures. It contains over 11,000 displays, including 2,753 loose precious stones.

7. Alexandria National Museum: Alexandria, Egypt

Photo Courtesy of David Stanley

Located in a former Italian-style mansion that once served as the home of the US Consulate, the Alexandria National Museum was officially opened in 2003. It houses over 1,800 artifacts from Alexandria and Egyptian history ranging from jewelry and weapons to statues and glassware.

8. Museum of Modern Art of Algiers: Algiers, Algeria

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia user Rvince

The exterior of this museum is nice (it was originally built as a department store in 1909), but it’s not what makes this one of the most stunning museums in Africa. The interior of the five-story museum though was renovated in a stunning neo-Moorish style before officially opening in 2007.

9. Melrose House: Pretoria, South Africa

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia user Stephantom

This beautiful 1886 home features stained glass windows, paintings, carpets, and ornate ceilings. Originally built as a home by George Jesse Heys, the building gained fame during the Second Boer War when it was requisitioned for use as the headquarters of the British forces in 1900.

10. Museum of Marrakech: Marrakech, Morocco

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia user Donarreiskoffer

Located in the Dar Menebhi Palace, the Museum of Marrakech displays modern and traditional Moroccan art, books, coins, and pottery. The building itself is certainly part of the display though, offering a unique look at classical Andalusian architecture including a central courtyard adorned with fountains.

11. Mapungubwe Museum: Pretoria, South Africa

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Hall

Mapungubwe is an excavation site where archeologists have found a wide variety of artifacts dating back to the Iron Age. Since the site’s discovery in 1933, the University of Pretoria had housed these artifacts, before moving them in June of 2000 into the museum, which was was once the Old Arts Faculty Building.

12. Blue Penny Museum: Port Louis, Mauritius


Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia User Sputnik Tilt

After obtaining two million dollars worth of Blue Penny and Red Penny stamps in 1993, the Mauritius Commercial Bank opened a museum to put these special pieces on display. While that may not mean much to most people, to stamp collectors, the Blue Penny and Red Penny stamps are some of the most notable collector items in the world. Originally issued in Mauritius in 1867, these stamps can be seen on display to the public in a handful of locations.

The lovely museum building was built specifically for this purpose and was opened to the public in 2001.

13. House of Slaves: Gorée Island, Senegal


Photo courtesy of Robin Elaine

A beautiful location with a tragic history, the House of Slaves is a museum and memorial dedicated to the Atlantic slave trade. The 1776 home is located on Gorée Island and some believe it served as a major trading port for slaves captured from Africa. It's argued that up to 15 million people were filed through the “Door of No Return” and shipped off as slaves.

Those of you who live in Africa or have visited museums there, feel free to contribute your own favorite museums from the continent in the comments!

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Pop Culture
Fumbled: The Story of the United States Football League
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There were supposed to be 44 players marching to the field when the visiting Los Angeles Express played their final regular season game against the Orlando Renegades in June 1985.

Thirty-six of them showed up. The team couldn’t afford more.

“We didn’t even have money for tape,” Express quarterback Steve Young said in 1986. “Or ice.” The squad was so poor that Young played fullback during the game. They only had one, and he was injured.

Other teams had ridden school buses to practice, driven three hours for “home games,” or shared dressing room space with the local rodeo. In August 1986, the cash-strapped United States Football League called off the coming season. The league itself would soon vaporize entirely after gambling its future on an antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League. The USFL argued the NFL was monopolizing television time; the NFL countered that the USFL—once seen as a promising upstart—was being victimized by its own reckless expansion and the wild spending of team owners like Donald Trump.

They were both right.

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Spring football. That was David Dixon’s pitch. The New Orleans businessman and football advocate—he helped get the Saints in his state—was a fan of college ball and noticed that spring scrimmages at Tulane University led to a little more excitement in the air. With a fiscally responsible salary cap in place and a 12-team roster, he figured his idea could be profitable. Market research agreed: a hired broadcast research firm asserted 76 percent of fans would watch what Dixon had planned.

He had no intention of grappling with the NFL for viewers. That league’s season aired from September through January, leaving a football drought March through July. And in 1982, a players’ strike led to a shortened NFL season, making the idea of an alternative even more appealing to networks. Along with investors for each team region, Dixon got ABC and the recently-formed ESPN signed to broadcast deals worth a combined $35 million over two years.

When the Chicago Blitz faced the Washington Federals on the USFL’s opening day March 6, 1983, over 39,000 fans braved rain at RFK Stadium in Washington to see it. The Federals lost 28-7, foreshadowing their overall performance as one of the league’s worst. Owner Berl Bernhard would later complain the team played like “untrained gerbils.”

Anything more coordinated might have been too expensive. The USFL had instituted a strict $1.8 million salary cap that first year to avoid franchise overspending, but there were allowances made so each team could grab one or two standout rookies. In 1983, the big acquisition was Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, who opted out of his senior year at Georgia to turn pro. Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in a three-year, $5 million deal.

Jim Kelly and Steve Young followed. Stan White left the Detroit Lions. Marcus Dupree left college. The rosters were built up from scratch using NFL cast-offs or prospects from nearby colleges, where teams had rights to “territorial” drafts.

To draw a line in the sand, the USFL had advertising play up the differences between the NFL’s product and their own. Their slogan, “When Football Was Fun,” was a swipe at the NFL’s increasingly draconian rules regarding players having any personality. They also advised teams to run a series of marketable halftime attractions. The Denver Gold once offered a money-back guarantee for attendees who weren’t satisfied. During one Houston Gamblers game, boxer George Foreman officiated a wedding. Cars were given away at Tampa Bay Bandits games. The NFL, the upstart argued, stood for the No Fun League.

For a while, it appeared to be working. The Panthers, which had invaded the city occupied by the Detroit Lions, averaged 60,000 fans per game, higher than their NFL counterparts. ABC was pleased with steady ratings. The league was still conservative in their spending.

That would change—many would argue for the worse—with the arrival of Donald Trump.

Despite Walker’s abilities on the field, his New Jersey Generals ended the inaugural 1983 season at 6-12, one of the worst records in the league. The excitement having worn off, owner J. Walter Duncan decided to sell the team to real estate investor Trump for a reported $5-9 million.

A fixture of New York media who was putting the finishing touches on Trump Tower, Trump introduced two extremes to the USFL. His presence gave the league far more press attention than it had ever received, but his bombastic approach to business guaranteed he wouldn’t be satisfied with an informal salary cap. Trump spent and spent some more, recruiting players to improve the Generals. Another Heisman winner, quarterback Doug Flutie, was signed to a five-year, $7 million contract, the largest in pro football at the time. Trump even pursued Lawrence Taylor, then a player for the New York Giants, who signed a contract saying that, after his Giants contract expired, he’d join Trump’s team. The Giants wound up buying out the Taylor/Trump contract for $750,000 and quadrupled Taylor’s salary, and Trump wound up with pages of publicity.

Trump’s approach was effective: the Generals improved to 14-4 in their sophomore season. But it also had a domino effect. In order to compete with the elevated bar of talent, other team owners began spending more, too. In a race to defray costs, the USFL approved six expansion teams that paid a buy-in of $6 million each to the league.

It did little to patch the seams. Teams were so cash-strapped that simple amenities became luxuries. The Michigan Panthers dined on burnt spaghetti and took yellow school buses to training camp; players would race to cash checks knowing the last in line stood a chance of having one bounce. When losses became too great, teams began to merge with one another: The Washington Federals became the Orlando Renegades. By the 1985 season, the USFL was down to 14 teams. And because the ABC contract required the league to have teams in certain top TV markets, ABC started withholding checks.

Trump was unmoved. Since taking over the Generals, he had been petitioning behind the scenes for the other owners to pursue a shift to a fall season, where they would compete with the NFL head on. A few owners countered that fans had already voiced their preference for a spring schedule. Some thought it would be tantamount to league suicide.

Trump continued to push. By the end of the 1984 season, he had swayed opinion enough for the USFL to plan on one final spring block in 1985 before making the move to fall in 1986.

In order to make that transition, they would have to win a massive lawsuit against the NFL.

In the mid-1980s, three major networks meant that three major broadcast contracts would be up for grabs—and the NFL owned all three. To Trump and the USFL, this constituted a monopoly. They filed suit in October 1984. By the time it went to trial in May 1986, the league had shrunk from 18 teams to 14, hadn’t hosted a game since July 1985, kept only threadbare rosters, and was losing what existing television deals it had by migrating to smaller markets (a major part of the NFL’s case was that the real reason for the lawsuit, and the moves to smaller markets, was to make the league an attractive takeover prospect for the NFL). The ruling—which could have forced the NFL to drop one of the three network deals—would effectively become the deciding factor of whether the USFL would continue operations.

They came close. A New York jury deliberated for 31 hours over five days. After the verdict, jurors told press that half believed the NFL was guilty of being a monopoly and were prepared to offer the USFL up to $300 million in damages; the other half thought the USFL had been crippled by its own irresponsible expansion efforts. Neither side would budge.

To avoid a hung jury, it was decided they would find in favor of the USFL but only award damages in the amount of $1. One juror told the Los Angeles Times that she thought it would be an indication for the judge to calculate proper damages.

He didn’t. The USFL was awarded treble damages for $3 in total, an amount that grew slightly with interest after time for appeal. The NFL sent them a payment of $3.76. (Less famously, the NFL was also ordered to pay $5.5 million in legal fees.)

Rudy Shiffer, vice-president of the Memphis Showboats, summed up the USFL's fate shortly after the ruling was handed down. “We’re dead,” he said.

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entertainment
The Time Douglas Adams Met Jim Henson
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On September 13, 1983, Jim Henson and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams had dinner for the first time. Henson, who was born on this day in 1936, noted the event in his "Red Book" journal, in characteristic short-form style: "Dinner with Douglas Adams – 1st met." Over the next few years the men discussed how they might work together—they shared interests in technology, entertainment, and education, and ended up collaborating on several projects (including a Labyrinth video game). They also came up with the idea for a "Muppet Institute of Technology" project, a computer literacy TV special that was never produced. Henson historians described the project as follows:

Adams had been working with the Henson team that year on the Muppet Institute of Technology project. Collaborating with Digital Productions (the computer animation people), Chris Cerf, Jon Stone, Joe Bailey, Mark Salzman and Douglas Adams, Jim’s goal was to raise awareness about the potential for personal computer use and dispel fears about their complexity. In a one-hour television special, the familiar Muppets would (according to the pitch material), “spark the public’s interest in computing,” in an entertaining fashion, highlighting all sorts of hardware and software being used in special effects, digital animation, and robotics. Viewers would get a tour of the fictional institute – a series of computer-generated rooms manipulated by the dean, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and stumble on various characters taking advantage of computers’ capabilities. Fozzie, for example, would be hard at work in the “Department of Artificial Stupidity,” proving that computers are only as funny as the bears that program them. Hinting at what would come in The Jim Henson Hour, viewers, “…might even see Jim Henson himself using an input device called a ‘Waldo’ to manipulate a digitally-controlled puppet.”

While the show was never produced, the development process gave Jim and Douglas Adams a chance to get to know each other and explore a shared passion. It seems fitting that when production started on the 2005 film of Adams’s classic Hitchhiker’s Guide, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop would create animatronic creatures like the slovenly Vogons, the Babel Fish, and Marvin the robot, perhaps a relative of the robot designed by Michael Frith for the MIT project.

You can read a bit on the project more from Muppet Wiki, largely based on the same article.

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