Museums in Rwanda are very vital in describing the country’s history, as they help people gauge where the country came from and tell where it could be heading. A country’s richness in history and heritage are very important in many aspects that create an identity for people of any nation in the world.
About museums in Rwanda, as a nation, is unwavering in its dedication to preserving and disseminating its history to both residents and international visitors. This commitment is led by the government, which invests significant resources in these endeavors.
Despite Rwanda’s rich history, encompassing kingdoms, colonial, and post-colonial periods, it has remained largely unexplored for an extended period, with untapped potential to attract local and foreign tourism.
This untapped potential could contribute significantly to revenue generation and raise awareness about the cultural heritage of Rwanda.
Since 2007, the government of Rwanda decided to refocus on the importance of museums and heritage sites in the land of a thousand hills. It did so by establishing the Institute of National Museum of Rwanda. This was a way of restoring the historical values and aspects, that the colonial rule struggled to destroy in Rwanda to have an upper hand on the people of Rwanda.
Safari Vacations and Travel Services is always prepared to guide you through these museums and other tourist attractions that capture your interest in Museums in Rwanda
Would you like to know the history, and what matters a lot to the people of the “country of a thousand hills”? Here are the museums and their significance.
The former National Museum of Rwanda, the country’s first museum, was inaugurated in September 1989 and subsequently transformed into the Ethnographic Museum.
It is located in Huye, 132km south of the capital, Kigali. This museum boasts perhaps the most exceptional ethnographic and archaeological collections in East Africa, featuring over 1000 artifacts. Engaging exhibits showcase traditional artifacts, complemented by a captivating selection of turn-of-the-century monochrome photographs, offering insights into pre-colonial lifestyles and the evolution of Rwanda into a modern African state. The museum is a repository of the most renowned aspects of Rwandan culture, with its seven galleries presenting historical, ethnographic, artistic, and archaeological artifacts. Visual aides accompany the exhibits, providing visitors with a rich and immersive understanding of Rwandan culture.
This brand-new museum opened its doors on 16th July 2015. Based at Lake Kivu in the Western Province, the building consists of two floors with a traditional herbal medicine garden based on the rooftop. It is the first and only environment museum on the continent that exhibits energy sources both renewable and none renewable. The museum is the center of education for our visitors. It thus helps them to understand and safeguard their environment and ensure an integrated and durable development, therefore, it’s mostly for those who highly appreciate nature.
The Rwanda Art Museum is located 4km from Kigali International Airport, in Kamombe. It was formerly a presidential palace but was changed to a museum in 2018. Providing visitors’ insight into the originality of Rwandan creativity, and arts development from centuries up to date, without overlooking traditional or modern imaginations. The museum displays contemporary artworks produced by both Rwandan and international artists.
The museum features an Art Kids’ Studio, providing young individuals with the opportunity to showcase and enhance their art skills. Additionally, remnants of the presidential plane, FALCON 50, involved in the tragic crash with the president on board, are also on display at the heritage site.
Campaign Against Genocide Museum is a museum located in the Parliamentary building, in Kigali just 800 meters behind the conventional center road point, and just 4.9km, 9 minutes drive from Kanombe Airport. This campaign against the Genocide Museum was opened officially on 13th December 2017 by H.E Paul Kagame.
The CAG Museum is situated in the Parliamentary building, formerly known as Conseil National de Development. This building served as the hosting site for Rwandan Patriotic Front politicians and the 600-man protection force (3BN) from December 28, 1993. During this time, preparations were underway for the installation of the Broad-Based Transitional Government and the National Transitional Assembly. On April 7, 1994, Major General Paul Kagame, the RPA Chairman of High Command, issued the order for the 600-man protection force (3BN) to break out from their initial positions, defend themselves, and rescue victims of the Genocide in their vicinity when the campaign against Genocide began.
The CAG Museum provides a detailed depiction of how the Campaign Against Genocide Plan was executed by RPF/A following the withdrawal of UN troops. This departure left the targeted Tutsi population at the mercy of the Genocidaires. The museum illustrates how the RPF/A forces, engaged in the war of liberation, unilaterally decided to intervene, putting an end to the genocide, rescuing victims, and defeating the genocidal forces.
This CAG Museum also has its outer part comprised of monuments including that of the 12.7mm Machine Gun that helped in containing the advancing genocidal forces.
Formerly known as the Natural History Museum, the Kandt Museum is located at KN 90 Street, around one kilometer from Kigali. The museum has three main parts say, the ‘Rwanda life in all aspects’ which represents the social, economic, and political life of the Rwandese before colonialism. The second part is the ‘colonial part’. This is the biggest part of the museum, introducing the experience of the Rwandese during the colonial period, but more specifically, under German rule. Right after the 1884 Berlin conference, Rwanda started to be under the rulership of Germany until 1916. However, later on under the League of Nations mandate after World War I, Belgians took over Rwanda. Richard Kandt’s life and deeds are henceforth covered here. The third part is the ‘Kigali part’ which shows the colonial, pre-colonial, and post-colonial and its revival as the capital.
Last but not least, it is the only remaining mark of the former Natural History Museum, that is; a temporary exhibition of live snakes, and a baby crocodile (measured 1 m in 2017). While visiting this external part, one can enjoy the view of the spectacular surrounding scenery, most importantly, the stunning view of Kigali, Shyorongi, and Jari mountains.
Once you visit this museum, you will see ancient fossils, glittering gold, stunning artifacts, deadly mushrooms, frogs, and snakes. From the eagle’s nest to the lake floor, there is something for everyone.
The King’s Palace Museum is located in Nyanza district, Southern Province, 88km from Kigali. It was for King Mutara III Rudahingwa and it offers a detailed look into the Rwandan Monarchial system. It also looks at its abolition in the early 1860s due to colonialism. The palace was then reconstructed as a replica but with entirely traditional materials. Visitors always find fascination in the procession of these royal cows, renowned for their impressive long horns, height, gentle nature, and traditional poems. It now serves to display Rwanda’s history from the 15th Century. The mausoleum on the neighboring hill of Mwima is open for visitors to explore, where King Mutara III, his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda, and King Kigeli IV Ndahindurwa were laid to rest.
Situated in Nyanza District, approximately 85km from Kigali City, the construction of the building began in 1957 and concluded in 1959 as a palace for King Mutara III Rudahigwa. However, he passed away before occupying it. In May 2006, the building was transformed into a National Art Gallery. However, in May 2018, a new Museum of Art was inaugurated in the former state house located in Kanombe. For the moment, a new exhibition focusing on “Homegrown solutions” as one of the strategies and solutions used by the country for economic development and peacebuilding aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis is under preparation. Meanwhile, the museum is still open to the public with exhibitions of photos of daily life and the history of Africans. Among them, we have Nigerians, Ugandans, and Rwandans, still on Museums in Rwanda.
In the Northern Province of Gicumbi district, 80 kilometers northeast of Kigali at Mulindi w’Intwali lies the National Liberation Museum Park. The museum primarily recounts the narrative of the efforts made to halt the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda. the efforts were instigated by the military wing Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1990. The museum also illustrates events before, during, and after the struggle through visuals that include texts and artifacts. One of the objects used in the fight against genocide embodies the Arusha Agreement, the Campaign against Genocide, and radio Muhabura utilized by the RPF and RPA for mobilization, like-minded events, as well as initiatives. Visitors are always fascinated by the longstanding bunker that sheltered H.E. Paul Kagame along with other officials’ bunkers.
The above is just a glimpse of what you can fully know about the se museums that you can know once you visit these museums. So, why not include museums on your bucket list for a satisfactory experience of knowing about Rwandan history? Book with us for an ultimate tourism experience where you can also do gorilla trekking and habituation, chimpanzee trekking, wildlife game drives, boat cruises, and many others.