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Museum of Black Civilisations

Museum of Black Civilisations

Senegal’s Museum of Black Civilizations Welcomes Some Treasures Home

With its focus on black cultural contributions across the world, a museum opens amid a heated debate about reclaiming plundered art.

A Bamoun statue from Cameroon, left, and a 2018 painting, “Redresseurs,” from a Cuban art collective The Merger, at the new Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar. It retraces cultural contributions of Africa up to present time.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

DAKAR, Senegal — The 19th-century sword rests in a glass case alongside a frail Quran in a spacious gallery where scrolls hang from the wall and soft religious chanting is piped in. The saber’s etched copper handle is shaped like a swan’s beak, with a ring at the end. Its leather sheath rests nearby.

The sword belonged to Omar Saidou Tall, a prominent Muslim spiritual leader in the 1800s in what is now modern-day Senegal. His quest to conquer nearby territories put him in armed conflict with France, which had its own takeover ambitions. The French colonialists eventually won and seized not just large swaths of West Africa but also the region’s treasures, including the sword. Like most artifacts from France’s African colonies, it wound up in a French museum.

But the sword is now back in Senegal — and the Senegalese would like to keep it here. It is one of the most important pieces on display at Senegal’s new Museum of Black Civilizations, which has opened its doors amid a heated discussion about Africa reclaiming art that was looted during the colonial era.



The guide was updated:
The Museum of Black Civilisations boasts around 18,000 pieces, including contemporary works like Édouard Duval-Carrié’s giant baobab sculpture. This institution aims to showcase the diversity of African cultures and their global influence, partnering with European museums to enrich the collection.

This is one of the most educational and historical excursion points in Senegal. With an area of ​​15,000 m2, this modern museum is dedicated to African civilizations, where more than 18,000 pieces are currently exhibited, ranging from the remains of the first hominids, which appeared in Africa several million years ago, to creations current artistic. This pan-African project highlights Africa’s contribution to cultural and scientific heritage resolutely turned towards the future.

If you’re into African history, then this is a perfect excursion for you. Also, people who are not into African history can visit this site and be amazed by the museum exhibitions’ uniqueness.

Things to expect of the black civilizations museum excursion:

A Breathtaking Architecture

Black Civilizations Museum

The Museum of Black Civilizations was inaugurated on November 6. It is located opposite the Grand Théâtre and covers 14,000 m². The architecture of the museum is inspired by the impluvium huts of Casamance and Great Zimbabwe. You will be able to discover four thematic floors. Each level exposes the social and technological advances transmitted by black civilizations in chronological order. However, for now, only the first two levels are open. The top floor houses a magnificent performance hall.

See the Evolution of African Civilizations


This museum houses thousands of various art exhibitions from the ancient days to the current modern age and still adds more to its collections. There are many things unique exhibitions to see, and we will be glad to provide guidance and answer the questions you might have about this place during your excursion.

Useful Information

  • Address: Musée des civilisations noires, Dakar
  • Opening hours: Tue–Sun 10am–7pm, Mon closed
  • Website: mcn.sn
  • Phone: +221 33 889 11 80
  • Email: mcn@mcn.sn
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