Ouidah Museum of History
Ouidah Museum of History: A Treasure Trove of Beninese History and African Art
Located in the heart of Benin, the Ouidah Museum of History is a veritable repository of historical and cultural artifacts that offer visitors a comprehensive understanding of the region's past. The collections of the museum are categorized into six major themes: the Portuguese Fort (the site of the museum), the Kingdom of Xwéda, the Kingdom of Dahomey, the Slave Trade, Vodun (a religion practiced in Benin), and the Cultural Links between Benin and the New World.
The African Art museum is nestled within the premises of the historical Portuguese Fort in Ouidah. In its early days, the Portuguese engaged in the slave trade within the fort's walls, and it continued to serve as Portugal's diplomatic presence in the region until it was seized by the Kingdom of Dahomey. After the fort was transferred to Dahomey's ownership in 1961, the government undertook restoration efforts, eventually transforming the fort into the Ouidah Museum of History in 1967.
Covering an area of approximately 1 hectare, the fort comprises the Portuguese representative's residence, a chapel, a military garrison, and military barracks. The residence houses most of the museum's permanent collections, while temporary exhibits are typically displayed in the chapel.
The African Art museum hosts valuable research collections from various archaeological excavations in the Ouidah-Savi region. These include the works of Merrick Posnansky from the University of California Los Angeles, Ken Kelly from the University of South Carolina, and Neil Norman from the University of Virginia. The museum also maintains research affiliations with the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin.
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