Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, close to Leuven and Brussels.

 
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Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren

 

The Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren.

 

See video impression of Royal Museum for Central Africa

 

 

The Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren.

The Royal Museum for Central Africa ( Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika ) is an ethnographical and natural history museum. It dates back to the time when Congo was owned as Congo Free State (1885-1908) by King Leopold II of Belgium, and the time thereafter when Congo (now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo) was a Belgian colony (1908-1960).

The museum was built for the 1897 World Exhibition (Belgium has hosted an astounding number of World Exhibitions, likely a testimony to the industrial prosperity of the country during the late 19th and early 20th century).

Besides focusing on Congo, the museum now extends its scope to large portions of Middle, East and West Africa. When we visited recently, despite some efforts, the museum still has a dated appearance, some apparently call is 'a museum of a museum', to indicate how museums looked like in the middle of the 20th century.

One of the many masks on display in the museum
One of the many masks on display in the museum.

There are 4 departments : Cultural Anthropology, Geology and Mineralogy, Zoology, History and General Scientific Services. Most interesting are the important section displaying various masks and outfits from the region. Quite a lot of stuffed huge animals are also on display.

You will not find much in this museum alluding to the exploitations, the various atrocities and torture that occurred, while King Leopold II owned the huge territory. You can find out about this in the book : "The Dream of the Celt", based on the life of Roger Casement, by Nobel Price winner Mario Vargas Llosa (2010). Flemish author David Van Reybrouck in his bestselling book (will also appear in English soon) "Congo. A History", reportedly also wrote about this issue (we did not read the book yet).

As the photos reveal, The Royal Museum for Central Africa is housed in a most impressive building. Adjacent is the marvellous and vast Park van Tervuren, which will invite you to a pleasant walk.

View towards the vast Park of Tervuren
View towards the vast Park of Tervuren.

Tervuren and the Royal Museum for Central Africa are located some 15 kilometers from Leuven.

 

Information about Leuven :

Townhall

Oude Markt (Old Market Square)

Bookstores in Leuven

University Central Library

Park Abbey, Heverlee

Saint Peter's Church

New : Saint Michael's Church

New : Saint Gertrude's Abbey ; Saint Quentin's Church ; Saint Anthony's Chapel (Father Damien Crypt) ; Saint James' Church

University Buildings in Leuven

Grand Beguinage of Leuven

Outside Leuven :

New : Basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel

New : Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren

 

 

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