A new permanent exhibition of renovated African Museum is reflecting the image of modern Africa, focusing on present and future of the continent, taking a clear break from the concept of the past, narrating the European-centered view on African civilization. Undergoing a major reform, one century old notorious institution known as the Palace of Colonies, and later as Royal Museum for Central Africa, mainly focused on Congo, aims to get rid of the shadows of the past, without abandoning shared history.
On December 8 the African Museum opened it doors after five years renovation, completely refurbishing the collection display in framework of a new philosophy. Next to the classical themes of masks and rituals, there are the new ones to arise, forming dazzling artifacts display telling stories of daily life and diaspora, languages and music, climate change, biodiversity, and the paradox of natural wealth.
“We have developed a critical narrative of the colonial past, compared to one-sided perspective we used to offer” said the Museum Director Guido Gryseels.”We wish to become a ‘site of remembrance’ for both Belgians and Congolese, but not only a monument reminiscent of the past, much more of a dynamic platform for debate on future, welcoming all the opinions”.
“We have definitely tried to develop a balanced narrative, by collating facts and memories to depict the most comprehensive image, offering everyone an opportunity to the personal opinion of their own“, Mr. Gryseels concluded referring to a new mindset of the Museum. “We developed our approach based on the available, scientifically objective research. We morally distance ourselves from King Leopold II policy as the ruler of the Congo Free State”.