There are plenty of opportunities to learn about Ghana’s fascinating past in the country’s museums, from its pre-colonial days right up to the present. Discover the culture of the Ashanti people, see authentic Ghanaian artworks and find out more about the city of Accra. Here are some of the best places to visit.
Ghana is renowned for its rich and beautiful cultural diversity, with dozens of ethnic groups with different beliefs and dispositions coexisting peacefully. The country is also one of the cornerstones of African history, being the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence.
The range of dynamic cultures to observe and learn about can be breathtaking but sometimes difficult to experience, especially in the cosmopolitan capital city, Accra. Visiting some of the major museums is the perfect way to begin a thorough cultural exploration of Ghana.
The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
In 1957, Ghana won independence from the British and became a sovereign state, the first of its kind in the sub-region, taking control of its affairs, resources and development. Dr Kwame Nkrumah was one of the men at the heart of the struggle for independence, being the country’s first prime minister and president.
Following his death, this museum was built to honour his legacy and house his mortal remains, books, artefacts and other items linked to his life. Visitors are taken through the history of the pan-African struggle as well and gain first-hand knowledge of his contributions and that of other African leaders like Patrice Lumumba and Julius Nyerere.
It continues to be a major destination for tourists eager to understand the role of Ghana in shaping post-colonial history.
The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, High St., Accra, Ghana, +233 23 367 1610
Kwame Nkrumah was at the heart of the struggle for independence | © Guido Sohne
The National Museum
If you yearn for a more comprehensive outlook on the ancient and modern history of Ghana, then the National Museum in Accra is the place to go. The National Museum of Ghana was established in 1957 and is the ultimate repository of knowledge on the various cultural elements of the people of Ghana, including their languages, chieftaincy systems, foods, dressing and handicraft.
The museum is divided into three primary sections: Ethnography, Archaeology and Arts. The Arts section houses the works of famous Ghanaian contemporary artists like El Anatsui and Ablade Glover. You can also spend time in the museum’s splendid sculpture garden.
The National Museum, Liberia Road, Accra, Ghana, +233 302 223963
Artwork by El Anatsui, a prominent Ghanaian artist | © Cliff
The Museum of Science and Technology
The Museum of Science and Technology is located just a few metres from the National Museum. It displays artefacts that embody Ghana’s scientific development, from pre-colonial times to the present. Visitors can find everything from primitive hand-axes and other simple farm tools to complex machinery like helicopters and bamboo bicycles, engineered and built by Ghanaians.
The museum also serves as the venue for the final exhibition for graduating students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s School of Fine Art, where some of the finest contemporary fine arts and performance arts are on display.
The Museum of Science and Technology, Barnes Road, Accra Ghana, (+233) 302 223963
W.E.B. Du Bois Museum
Ghana’s historical significance does not end with pan-Africanism and the leaders across the continent who inspired the movement; it also extends to the African diaspora. African-American scholar and pan-Africanist William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois moved to Ghana in the 1950s to help build the new nation at the request of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
His museum at the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre memorialises this relationship between Africans at home and the diaspora. Visitors can expect to find his books, speeches, pictures and other articles, as well as those of other key figures such as Marcus Garvey and George Padmore.
W.E.B. DuBois Centre, Second Circular Rd, Accra, (+233) 30 277 6502
Manhyia Palace Museum
Manhyia Palace Museum
The Manhyia Palace Museum was built to catalogue and share the illustrious history of the Ashanti, one of history’s most dominant West African empires. The museum, located in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest and most populous city, houses various priceless artefacts dating back to the height of the Ashanti empire. Visitors can also explore the birth of the empire through various video installations.
All in all, this is an excellent place to dive into the expansive wealth of knowledge that was born from the Ashanti empire.
The Manhyia Palace Museum, off Antoa Rd, Kumasi, Ghana (+233) 032 202 3680
Akan court music © | Leah Washington
Museums are excellent spaces to expand your knowledge of Ghanaian culture, but don’t limit your experience to just these places. A large part of Ghanaian history was passed along orally, so talking to people is a good way to obtain a more balanced outlook of the nation’s past.