The Musuem of Black Civilisations was officially opened earlier this month in Dakar, by President Macky Sall, over 50 years after it was first conceived by the Léopold Sédar Senghor , a poet, pan-Africanist thinker and Senegal’s first president.
Completion of the long standing project was made possible by funding from China (over $30 million) with the museum’s design handled by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design.
The 14 000 sqm facility which is inspired by traditional homes in southern Senegal, will serve as a creative laboratory, helping to shape the continent’s sense of identity as opposed to a commemorative monument dwelling on past tragedies. It will document and celebrate artifacts from global black civilizations as well as achievements of Africans and the members of the African diaspora.
According to a report by Associated Press, the opening of the museum comes at a time when a global conversation about the ownership and legacy of African art is gaining traction. French President Emmanuel Macron has recommended that French museums give back art work taken without consent (about 90 000 items) should African countries request them, citing that he cannot accept that a large part of African Heritage is in France.
“It’s entirely logical that Africans should get back their artworks,…These works were taken in conditions that were perhaps legitimate at the time but illegitimate today.”
Senegal’s Culture Minister, Abdou Latif Coulibaly
The museum would provide welcoming spaces for these artworks and artefacts positioning Senegal as an intellectual and cultural capital of the black world.