The 10 Biggest Museums in Africa

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The African Continent is blessed with a rich culture and heritage, much of which is embedded in the biggest museums in Africa. These museums showcase the beautiful history of the African continent and what it has to offer. They exhibit the past, the pride, and the strides that the African continent has made to get to where it is now. This article seeks to explore the biggest museums in Africa and provide their locations, size, and the number of artifacts it houses. These museums house Africa’s history and most significant events. Furthermore, they hold important memories of the past in their raw form undiluted by the change in dispensations.

1. The Grand Egyptian Museum- Cairo, Egypt

Hailed as the biggest museum in Africa, the Grand Egyptian Museum covers an area of 480,000 square meters. It was completed in February 2023 and is filled with some of the most fascinating historical artifacts and objects. Some of the artifacts housed in the Great Egyptian Museum date as far back as early human civilizations. The strategic position of the museum makes it a convenient tourist destination site in Egypt, being only 1.2 miles away from the Giza Pyramids.

The museum is filled with artifacts of which most date back to the 5th millennium BC. The construction of the project is estimated to have cost around $550 million. It houses close to 50,000 artifacts, 30,000 of which have never been seen by the public. Famous artifacts include the treasure of the Golden King, Tutankhamun.Biggest Museums in Africa

2. The Egyptian Museum- Cairo, Egypt

The second biggest museum is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo Egypt, housing over 120,000 items. It was the biggest museum in Africa before the Grand Egyptian Museum eclipsed it. Built-in 1901, the Egyptian museum houses some of the most precious historical antiquities in Egypt. It also holds the biggest collection of the ancient world. It is considered a haven of cultural heritage, showcasing Egypt’s past way of life and traditions. It houses artifacts and art that was used in the past as well as hieroglyphics tablets and writings.

3. Bardo National Museum- Tunis, Tunisia

The Bardo National Museum is one of the biggest museums in the continent that houses Africa’s diverse cultural heritage. It is considered one of Africa’s best museums and the biggest museum in North Africa. It is located in Le Bardo, Tunis, Tunisia. It houses a diverse collection from all aspects of the African culture. This includes artifacts from different times in history such as artifacts from the Transatlantic trade in Africa. The museum was established in 1888 and boasts artifacts dating way back to the 4th century. Furthermore, it entails thousands of artifacts that imbue Tunisia’s rich history spanning millennia.

4. The Kenya National Museum- Nairobi, Kenya

The Kenya National Museum was originally built in 1911 as a Natural History museum and library with an honorary curator. This later changed when in 1930, the museum was officially opened after construction of the site was renovated and completed. It currently stands as fourth among the biggest museums in Africa. The Kenya National Museum is located in Museum Hill, Nairobi, it is the oldest and one of the biggest in Kenya and the East African region.

Also known as the Nairobi National Museum, it houses impressive early human artifacts found around Kenya. This includes more than 350,000 fossils in its collection, 700 of which belong to ancient humans. It has the skeleton of the Turkana boy, which is believed to date back to 1.6 million years according to archaeologists.

5. Musee National Museum- Yaounde, Cameroon

Though the origins of the museum date back to the 1930s, the Musee National Museum did not become a museum until 2014. This was done so after a prime ministerial decree by the then-prime minister. The Musee National Museum holds in its collection some of the artifacts and antiquities from earlier civilizations.

It is also the biggest museum in Cameroon and the fifth biggest in the African continent. Contrary to its predecessors on the list, the Musee National Museum houses only close to 850 artifacts that are on display.Biggest Museums in Africa

6. The Museum of Contemporary African Art Al Maaden- Casablanca, Morocco

Al Maaden Museum is the biggest museum in Morocco and is considered one of the biggest in North Africa. It is unique from all the other museums mentioned before as it is an African gallery museum. This museum aims to disseminate, educate, and popularize art in Morocco and within the African continent. Its main tourists are usually the younger audience with a passion for indulging in art and learning about African art.

It features art from the country and the African continent, often showcasing new exhibitions while shedding light on the past ones as well. The Al Maaden Museum is a haven for those interested in contemporary art and are interested in learning its roots.Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL)

7. The National Museum of Ethiopia- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Considered one of the best museums to visit in Africa and the sixth biggest museum in Africa, the National Museum of Ethiopia is a must-see. The National Museum of Ethiopia houses a large collection of artifacts and objects. Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it is one of the most famous museums in the continent, with a large number of tourists yearly.

The museum was established in 1958 and is considered one of the biggest museums in Africa as it holds important collections. The most famous collection on display is the fossilized remains of early hominids popularly called Lucy who have been estimated to date to about 3.3 million years ago and Selam, which was found between 2000 and 2004 is believed to be Lucy’s baby.

8. Nigerian National Museum- Lagos, Nigeria

Located in Onikan, Lagos Island in Lagos, the Nigerian National Museum ranks eighth among the biggest museums in Africa. The National Museum is the biggest in Nigeria based on its size and the number of collections it exhibits. The Nigerian National Museum is also one of the richest museums in the continent boasting about 47,000 or more items in its possession. The founding of the museum dates back to the year 1957 by Kenneth Murray. Artifacts in the museum range from all parts of the country and the whole of Africa and some date back to as far back as 200 BC which includes part of the Nok culture. Biggest Museums in Africa

9. Benin City National Museum- Benin City, Nigeria

Ranking ninth based on the artifacts, and the rich African cultural antiquities in its exhibits, the Benin City National Museum appears among the biggest museums in Africa. The Benin City National Museum is located in the city center of King’s Square. Though it is surpassed by many other museums in terms of size, the museum is distinct in the number of artifacts it possesses. Most of these artifacts relate to the Benin Empire, deemed one of Africa’s most powerful empires. It also has artifacts that date back to early African civilization and way of life. Biggest Museums in Africa

10. Iziko Museum- Cape Town, South Africa

Harboring fascinating collections such as artifacts from the early Iron Age and the Karoo fossils which are estimated to have lived about 250 million years ago, the Iziko Museum is a hub of historical heritage. The Iziko Museum is the tenth biggest museum in Africa based on size and the artifacts in its possession. Other fascinating exhibits that the museum takes pride in are the collection of whale casts and skeletons. There are also exhibits of the Lydenburg Heads.  The museum was founded in 1825 and is located in the  Company’s Garden, Cape Town city center. Collections and Digitisation - Iziko Museums

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