With many museums reopening their doors across the globe, the Theodore-Monod museum of art (Musee Theodore Monod dArt africain) in Dakar, Senegal, has also reportedly reopened this week. After more than a year of shutdown following the COVID-19 outbreak, the museum has opened with a “new vision” and artwork that has come back to the continent after many years, sources claim.
Previously named IFAN Museum of African Arts (Musée de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire), the museum was built in early 1930s, as per reports. Evidently, the museum was initially home to the French Institute for Black Africa, which was renamed to the Fundamental Institute for Black Africa (IFAN) before it was converted to a museum in the year 1960.
In 2007, the museum was supposedly renamed to Theodore-Monod museum of art after Theodore Monod, a distinguished French scientist and explorer.
However, the current exhibit has been reopened in celebration of Amadou-Mahtar Mbow, UNESCO’s first African director, who recently turned 100 years old, according to reports.
During his term at UNESCO, in 1978, Mbow had reportedly written ‘A plea for the return of an irreplaceable cultural heritage to those who created it’. In the document, Mbow had evidently asked member stated to take measures to return the cultural property to countries to which it belongs.
Some of the works of art have been acquired back in the 19th century, as per reports. IFAN researchers had later added art they gathered during their studies, including masks, ornamental or live weapons of wood, earth, figurines, metal, cloth, vessels, or leather, sourced from the Sahel or West Africa.
El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, the curator of the museum, seemingly described the collection at the museum “unparalleled” in the continent.
As per reports, Ndiaye also expressed regret over the fact that more than 9000 artworks of the museum were ushered into ‘invisibility’ by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the loss of revenue for the museum in that duration.
Reliable sources suggest that the museum has leveraged the reopening as an opportunity. Museum visitors would apparently find both improvements and additions to the existing widespread collection of artworks.