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). African works of art and implements tell their own stories. Stories which open your eyes to the cultures these works and implements once played a part in, and largely still do.
Wooden figures with mirrors and nails; a graceful, serenelooking mask; a woven basket full of small figures, bones, seeds, beads and pebbles... What are these objects doing here in the museum, and what were they doing back there in Africa?
The main theme of the exhibition in hall 1 is encounters. Encounters between Europeans and Africans, between the museum and its visitors, and between objects and onlookers.
Western and African views of African art
The history of ethnographic museums is above all a history of the Western approach to other cultures. In the last hundred years this has changed radically. The same applies to the interpretation of objects from such cultures. Some African sculptures that were once dismissed as 'graven images' are now considered artistic masterpieces fit to be displayed on pedestals. In hall 2, a brief history of Western views of African art will show how this change came about.
Religion and Society
Religion plays an important part in the lives of many Africans. Although
many now call themselves Muslims or Christians, traditional African
religious beliefs and practices are by no means things of the past. In a
life full of uncertainty, they still give many people something to hold
on to. In particular, belief in ancestors who can be called on for help
enables people to exercise some control over their daily lives.
Art in East Africa
In hall 6, you can meet de herdsmen from Sudan and Kenya, the Makonde from Mozambique and Tanzania, the Muslims from Swahili, and the Christians from Ethiopia.
The Baka pygmies between past and present
The Baka Pygmies live in a tropical forest area of western Central Africa, where for thousands of years they have managed to survive as wandering hunter-gatherers. They are at home in the forest and feel as one with their natural surroundings. The forest is their storehouse, their pharmacy, their hunting ground and indeed their whole universe, with a creator god and spirits.
Looking outside: African architecture in the Outdoor Museum
In the Outdoor Museum, you can learn all about African architecture. The museum park boasts real life examples of African architecture such as a Kusasi compound from Ghana, a Dogon village from Mali, and pile dwellings from Benin. Click here for more information about the Outdoor Museum.