13 Breathtakingly Beautiful Museums in Africa
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!