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Royal Museum for Central Africa

397 Reviews

Royal Museum for Central Africa

397 Reviews
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Leuvensesteenweg, 13, Tervuren 3080 Belgium
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StokkeBrussels Metro50 min
KraainemBrussels Metro59 min
397Reviews8Q&A
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Leo L wrote a review Apr. 4
Mechelen, Belgium17 contributions29 helpful votes
Very nice building, lots to see but not really coherent, i missed a story. Though looks they struggle with perception balances which disturbs focus on the true content. I liked the animal section the most.
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Date of experience: April 2021
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Binwaa wrote a review Jan. 2021
Vilvoorde, Belgium19 contributions8 helpful votes
+1
After renovation, the content was degraded to nearly nothing and not representing what Africa has meant to Belgium. Visit only for building and park
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Date of experience: January 2021
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deborahdemaere wrote a review Oct. 2020
Zele, Belgium1 contribution
A new experience! A new way to discover a museum. Perfect to play with your friends or family. It took us 80 minutes to complete the quest
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Date of experience: October 2020
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CCR wrote a review Sep. 2020
Overijse, Belgium6 contributions4 helpful votes
Beautiful building such shame about the contents. This museum had a major refurbishment and still not great sad to say. The items are not so well displayed boring in cases with labels for many parts. Yes they have some interactive screens in some parts that require head phones but they seem weird and didnt always work although the idea was nice but other items its not possible to get interactive descriptions or information. There really isn't much acknowledgement about the fact that Belgium removed masses of wealth from Africa etc which should have been covered in this day and age. It really is a lovely building and grounds and masses of money on refurb but missed oppertunity.
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Date of experience: October 2019
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CatherineReichardt wrote a review Jul. 2020
Brussels, Belgium158 contributions56 helpful votes
I have lived and worked in Africa on and off for around 30 years (and have lived in Brussels for four years) so I'd really been looking forward to visiting this museum, which was closed for a prolonged period as it was being revamped. Let's start with the positives. The museum building - adjacent to stunning Tervuren Park, where we often walk our dog - is gorgeous, and it's probably worth the (steep) admission fee for that alone. The immense dug out canoe in the underground tunnel which links the entrance to the main museum is jawdropping in its size (even more so when you consider the size of the original tree from which it was hewn), and would probably need the population of a small village to propel it. So, a very good start. The problems start when you actually get inside of the museum. I don't think that anyone would argue that Belgian's colonial history is horrific - and the fact that Congo was run as King Leopold II's fiefdom to be exploited for his own personal gain is rightly a source of national embarrassment (as evidenced by the current King Philippe's apology earlier in the month). But such a revisionist reaction to what was the likely previous pro-colonial narrative of the museum is not a helpful way to deal with this difficult dynamic, and the message of Africans = Good, so Europeans = Bad, is neither accurate nor constructive. Put simply, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes, and those overseeing this tricky transition should have been mature enough to recognise this and ensure a more balanced and nuanced narrative. Inaccurately, the museum claims that in World War I, Belgians defeated the German East Africa Force - in complete contrast to the fact that this force was undefeated . This is a fundamental factual error, and it's difficult to understand how the academics overseeing this transition can have overlooked such a basic mistake. Similarly, there is also a blanket statement that mining in DRC only benefits foreign companies and does not bring socio-economic benefit to communities that may have been accurate in 1980, but is simply not reflective of today's reality. Sadly, the most disappointing part of the museum is the section that deals with biodiversity. Unfortunately the best thing about this section (which I had been expecting to be the highlight) are the stuffed animals that have been recycled from the previous exhibits, and even they are minimalistically labelled with a disappointingly lack of detail. The displays fail to string together a coherent story, and are curiously silent on the negative impacts of human activity on ecosystems (apart from a single display decrying the use of endangered animal products to manufacture luxury goods such as shoes and bags). What about clearance of critical habitat? Deliberate setting of fires? Poaching? SUCH a wasted opportunity. It's as though the animals exhibited - the majority of which are either endangered or critically endangered - have ended up with that conservation status by accident, and that human activity isn't to blame. So, what's my recommendation? I wholeheartedly endorse visiting glorious Tervuren Park (Brussel's forested gem of a park, and easily accessible via the scenic Tram 44 from Montgomery). Walk around the outside of the stunning palace in which the museum is housed, and visit the laughably inaccurate but endearing elephant sculpture over the road (complete with oddly proportioned pygmies atop). Whether you choose to visit the museum is up to you. If you do so, then temper your expectations and I hope that your experience is more positive than ours.
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Date of experience: July 2020
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