There are not too many museums about African history and culture on the European continent. Thus, the Afrika Museum in the Limburg province, Netherlands is definitely a very interesting place to vist – it is also located quite closely located to the German-Dutch border. The museum is a sibling of the Tropics Museum and the Museum for Ethnology in Amsterdam and the World Museum in Rotterdam.
Afrika Museum – Location & Admission
The Afrika Museum’s ground are part of the Berg en Dal village, which is Southeast of Nijmegen. However, the museum and its open air exhibition are outside the village. The Museum Orientalis is close. Kranenburg, the first town on the German side of the border, is less than ten kms away.
Adult admission to the museum is 15 Euro. The museum is however accepting the Dutch Museumkaart. I could buy the temporary Museumkaart here, even during Covid-19 times. The museum is open daily. Monday to Friday times are 10:00 to 17:00hrs, the museum opens one hour later on Saturdays and Sundays. The outdoor exhibits are limited in winter (November til end of March). Parking is 2 Euro per car.
Afrika Museum – The Visit
Also due to Covid-19, there was a signposted route through the exhibition, which was very well organized. There are a lot of interesting sections of the museum, which focus on different topics. Apart from the indoor parts, there is an open-air museum, which you typically explore at the end of the visit. The languages supported are a bit chaotic: most of the indoor exhibits are documented in Dutch and German, some parts are in English or tri-lingual. The outdoor exhibition’s signage is the local language only.
The first section of the exhibition was simply called The Power of Change and mainly featured the cultural change in the African society, but also the creativity which is emerging from that. There were numerous design objects from African artists, which were very fascinating and powerful. The exhibition also featured African pop music, but also fashion, sculptures and other items.
The museum always features some temporary exhibitions as well. Bitter Chocolate Stories points out on children labor, which is especially common in African cocoa plantations. There were stories (in Dutch and English) which explained the experience of the young kids and how it transformed their soul. Very impressing – and depressing.
A very impressing, but not depressing part of our visit was definitely the beautifully arranged exhibition of African photography at the World Press Photo Awards. Very nice photographs, which especially illustrated the African lifestyle, but also the very special challenges in African living.
The indoor part of the exhibition closes with African handcrafts and arts. Thereby, this section of the exhibition focuses on East Africa and displays items from Mozambique, Tansania, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and other countries.
Open-Air Museum (Outside Exhibition)
From the East Africa exhibition, you access the open-air space. There are multiple reconstructed villages, e.g. a Ghana Kusasi village or a village of the Dogon people from Mali. You can enter a lot of buildings, which then feature additional exhibition and documentation about the region. This area is also used for workshops – during our visit, there was a seminar for youth on African drumming, for example. A very interesting exhibit to me were the pile dwellings as they are used in Benin – a much better exhibit than the Lake Constance Pile Dwellings to me.
Afrika Museum – Services
In front of the main entrance of the museum, there is a restaurant / cafe, which does not require an admission. There are snacks in the open-air museums as well – unfortunately with a rather limited linkage to the African continent. Last, but not least, you can buy African / African-style items in some of the outdoor facilities of the museum. I felt that the staff in the museum was really helpful during our visit.
Afrika Museum – The View
The Afrika Museum is definitely a very educative and beautifully done place. They show a wide variety of exhibitions, from architecture to arts and handcraft, but also problematic topics like child labor. I felt really gifted to have visited that place and had a really visit there, which finally took over two hours. Bad luck that they do not do more advertising – they absolutely deserve more visitors.
Excellent Museums & Exhibitions