Over 50 years ago, the first president of post-independence Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, announced that there were plans to build a museum of African culture in Dakar, the country’s capital. On Thursday, almost 17 years after his death, The Museum of Black Civilizations opened in the African nation, according to the Smithsonian.
The 150,000-square-foot museum, funded in large part by a $34 million investment from China, is “incomparable to anything in the world,” curator Babacar Mbow told Al Jazeera.
The location’s first exhibition will feature work by artists from Mali, Burkina Faso, Cuba and Haiti. Work from author and activist Angela Davis will be featured in the museum’s Women of the Nation showcase.
“This museum is a step forward for us,” Senegalese arts journalist Amadou Moustapha Dieng, told the BBC. “I know there are important relics which I’m not able to see unless I go abroad, but now [with] this space, we can get back the relics and Africans can come here now and see this was their history.”
The Museum of Black Civilizations will feature exhibits such as the “Cradle of Humankind,” which will have information on human origins in Africa; “African Civilizations: Continuous Creation of Humanity,” which looks into the history of masks; and “The Caravan and Caravel,” which looks at the slave trade, according to the Smithsonian.
The building’s architecture is inspired by traditional Senegalese homes.