Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren

Saturday, 28 January 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions
Reading Time:  4 minutes

© EmDee/cc-by-sa-3.0

© EmDee/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Royal Museum for Central Africa or RMCA (Dutch: Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika or KMMA; French: Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale or MRAC; German: Königliches Museum für Zentralafrika or KMZA), also officially known as the AfricaMuseum, is an ethnography and natural history museum situated in Tervuren in Flemish Brabant, Belgium, just outside Brussels. It was built to showcase King Leopold II’s Congo Free State in the International Exposition of 1897.

The museum focuses on the Congo, a former Belgian colony. The sphere of interest, however, especially in biological research, extends to the whole Congo River basin, Middle Africa, East Africa, and West Africa, attempting to integrate “Africa” as a whole. Intended originally as a colonial museum, from 1960 onwards it has focused more on ethnography and anthropology. Like most museums, it houses a research department in addition to its public exhibit department. Not all research pertains to Africa (e.g. research on the archaeozoology of Sagalassos, Turkey). Some researchers have strong ties with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

Park © Luc Viatour/cc-by-sa-3.0 Park © Smiley.toerist/cc-by-sa-4.0 Stanley Pavilion © Ji-Elle/cc-by-sa-3.0 © EmDee/cc-by-sa-3.0 Main building © Sally V/cc-by-4.0 Painting 'Civilization in Congo' by Edouard Manduau, 1884 © Daderot Painting 'Police du Congo Belge' © Hispalois/cc-by-sa-4.0 Palace of the Colonies © EmDee/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Painting 'Civilization in Congo' by Edouard Manduau, 1884 © Daderot
The AfricaMuseum houses collections that are unique in the world, of which only a small proportion can be exhibited. According to the museum’s website, the objects and animals on display in the main building make up less than 5% of the total museum’s collection:

  • The Department of Zoology has over 10,000,000 specimens, including 6,000,000 insects and 1,000,000 fish.
  • The Department of Geology and Mineralogy holds more than 56,000 wood samples in its xylotheque, as well as 200,000 rock samples and 17,000 minerals.
  • The Department of Cultural Anthropology can boast of 120,000 ethnographic objects (1,600 of which are in the exhibition rooms). The ethnomusicology collection comprises 8,000 musical instruments, as well as 2,500 hours of recordings of traditional music from sub-Saharan Africa, in particular in Central Africa (Congo, Rwanda and Burundi), of which the oldest dates back to 1910 (wax Edison scrolls). Additionally, more than 500,000 films and photos are kept in the film and photo libraries.
  • Finally, the Department of History and General Scientific Services manages thousands of historical objects and 350 archives, including some of Henry Morton Stanley‘s journals. Some of the collections are digitally accessible.

The herbarium collection of the then-Congo Museum was transferred to that of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium in 1934. In November 2013, the museum closed for extensive renovation work, including the construction of new exhibition space, and re-opened in December 2018.

Read more on AfricaMuseum and Wikipedia Royal Museum for Central Africa (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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