Royal Museum for Central Africa

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Royal Museum for Central Africa
Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale 20.JPG
The Royal Museum for Central Africa as seen from the park
place Tervuren , Belgium Coordinates: 50 ° 49 ′ 51.2 ″  N , 4 ° 31 ′ 6.6 ″  EWorld icon
architect Charles Girault
opening 1910
Guido Gryseels

The Royal Museum for Central Africa ( Dutch Royal Museum Midden-Africa , French Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale ), short- Africa Museum , in the Belgian municipality of Tervuren in Brussels , formerly the Museum of the Belgian Congo ( Museum van Belgian Congo ; Musée du Congo Belge ), is both a museum and a research facility.


In 1885, at the Congo Conference in Berlin , King Leopold II of Belgium persuaded the other European powers and the United States to grant him the appropriation of the resource-rich area of ​​the Congo. Until then, the region had not been fully developed by Europeans. Because business in the Free State of the Congo was sluggish at the beginning, Leopold had to apply for a loan from the Belgian parliament and convince the Belgians of the benefits of his project. For this purpose he built several Congolese villages in the park of Tervuren in 1897. There he exhibited "real Africans" - in the style of a " Völkerschau " popular at the time - and presented them as an attraction in the context of the world exhibition . The show was visited by around 1.2 million people. The following year, Leopold founded the museum.

The main exhibition of the museum, which has been on display since 1957, in the immediate north of the Tervuren Park, concentrated largely on the Belgian Congo , the former colony of Belgium. However, the entire Congo basin , Central, East, Central and West Africa were also taken into account.

The museum's first curators included Théodore Masui (1863–19 ??), Alphonse de Haulleville (1860–1938), Emile Coart (1859–1924) and Joseph Maes (1882–1953). The first museologists in Tervuren were influenced by British and American evolutionism and German diffusionism .

After the Democratic Republic of the Congo gained independence in 1960, it shifted the focus of its work to ethnography and anthropology .

On April 30, 2010, the museum lavishly celebrated its 100th birthday. It was closed from December 1, 2013 and was reopened in December 2018 with a new concept. Because Adam Hochschild 's presentation of the personal commitment of Leopold II in the Congo as well as the Belgian involvement in the murder of Patrice Lumumba documented by Ludo de Witte in 1999 and the discussions triggered by it must be taken into account; these challenged the previous museum view of Belgian colonial history and pushed for a new presentation of the rich museum holdings.

The museum published the Annales du Musée (Royale) du Congo Belge .



  • Théodore Masui, Charles Liebrechts (ed.): Guide de la section de l'État indépendant du Congo à l'exposition de Bruxelles-Tervueren en 1897. Impr. Veuve Monnom, Bruxelles 1897 ( digitized ).
  • Théodore Masui (Ed.): Les Collections ethnographiques du Musée du Congo. 2 volumes. Ann. Mus. du Congo, Tervuren 1899–1902.
  • Henri Schouteden: Guide illustré du Musée du Congo Belge. 3. Edition. Tervueren 1938.
  • Philippe Persoons: L'exposition de Bruxelles - Tervueren en 1897 et l'opinion publique. Louvain, Univ., Diss., 1974 (published 1975).
  • B. Küster: Between aesthetics, politics and ethnography: The presentation of the Belgian Congo at the World Exhibition Brussels-Tervuren 1897. In: Cordula Grewe (Ed.): The look of the foreigner. Exhibition concepts between art, commerce and science. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-51508-843-1 , pp. 95-118.

Web links

Commons : Royal Museum for Central Africa  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Matthias Krupa : Belgian Africa Museum: Farewell to Tervuren . In: The time . December 15, 2013, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed September 13, 2017]).
  2. Maarten Couttenier: Congo tentoongesteld: een geschiedenis van de Belgische anthropologie en het museum van Tervuren 1882-1925. 2005, p. 10 (Belgian; limited preview in Google book search)
  3. The renovation of the AfricaMuseum. Retrieved January 14, 2019 .
  4. Boris Pofalla: White men, white spots. In: . January 5, 2019, accessed January 14, 2019 .
  5. Joachim Fritz-Vannahme : Giving the mask a face. In: . December 13, 2001, accessed January 14, 2019 .