Namibia is a land blessed with rich fossil history, great ethnic diversity, and rare mineral wealth. As such, the country’s museums house a varied and assorted collection of interesting artifacts, original and unique gemstones, and intriguing stories of cultural history, colonialism and independence. Here are some of the more interesting historical museums in the country that will take visitors on a journey into the past for a closer look at the origins and development of Namibia.
This is the largest privately run museum in Namibia, with displays on Namibia’s ethnology and history. ‘People of Namibia‘ is a one-of-a-kind educational exhibition that highlights the diversity of the country’s various ethnic groups, and there is also a military and mining display, a reconstructed colonial home display, and an apothecary shop. The museum is located between the beach and the lighthouse at the site of the old harbour warehouse.
Swakopmund Museum, Strand St, Swakopmund, +264 64402046
Damara Living Museum
The Damara Living Museum offers a walk through traditional Damara life, where visitors can learn more about medicinal uses of plants, and crafts such as jewelry making and leather tanning. The Damara, together with the Khoisan, are one of the oldest ethnic groups in Africa, but over the years, many of their traditions have fallen into disuse. The Living Museum seeks to recreate the Damara’s age-old lifestyles and includes bush walks and village tours.
The oldest building in Windhoek, this museum was designed by Captain Curt von François and once served as the headquarters of the imperial German Schutztruppe. It is located on a hill overlooking the city of Windhoek and houses the State Historical Museum, with multipurpose exhibitions on the history of Namibia, from its Khoisan origins through to its German colonial period and finally independence.
It’s easy to while away a few hours at the Tsumeb Museum, which houses an excellent mining and mineral display, artifacts from the Himba and Herero tribes, and old military weapons. The establishment and history of the town are closely intertwined with rare mineral mining, while the suburban streets are lined with pretty, colorful jacaranda trees.
Tsumeb Museum, President’s Avenue, Tsumeb, +264 67220447
Another place to admire all that glitters is the Kristall Galerie in Swakopmund, home to the world’s largest quartz crystal cluster. The gallery also features some of the world’s most incredible crystal formations and natural wonders that are millions of years old. Some of the crystals on display took up to five years to extract from the earth due to their size, and are rare and unique wonders of nature.
Kristall Galerie, Theo-Ben Gurirab Ave, Swakopmund, +264 64406080
This museum is housed in an old Finnish mission station and offers visitors a trip through the traditional lifestyles of the Ndonga people. There is a life-size replica of a traditional homestead that can be toured through, and those that wish to can order a traditional meal of Ovambo chicken by prior arrangement. The museum also offers a large variety of exhibits, photos, and texts.
Nakambale Museum, Owamboland, +264 65245668
Independence Memorial Museum
For great insight into the history of Namibia, take a trip to the Independence Memorial Museum in Windhoek. The museum stands as a symbol of anti-colonial resistance and is a place where the story of the country’s national liberation struggle is told. The unusual design of the building features an exterior glass-fronted elevator, while inside the walls are papered with graphic paintings, dramatically conveying the tragedy of war. There are three floors concentrating on colonial repression, liberation, and the road to independence.
Independence Memorial Museum, Windhoek, +264 61276800
German colonial history features strongly at the Lüderitz Museum, with a large collection of artifacts relating to local history, as well as wildlife in the region. Displays on natural history, local indigenous groups, and the diamond-mining industry are also included. Don’t miss out on getting a close look at the original cross that Bartholomew Diaz erected at the lighthouse, as well as the native bird egg display. Small yet informative, this little museum is worth a stop.
Trans-Namib Transport Museum
This small yet attractive museum is housed in a beautiful old Cape Dutch-style train station in Windhoek. The museum showcases the history of Namibian rail travel and features a large variety of old photographs and maps depicting the first rail routes in the country. There is also an interesting and varied collection of railway bric-a-brac, from switchboards to signs and scales.