Culture and history being key sources of a country’s identity, the Rwandan government through the Rwanda development board launched the Institute Of National Museums Of Rwanda to identify, conserve and spear head cultural and historical tourist attractions in the country. Since its establishment, the INMR has had positive results seen in the increase in the number of museums and heritage sites. Initially, there was only one museum in Rwanda but they are now six each having unique attractions. Tourists in Rwanda have therefore been given chance to choose a cultural museum to visit. Rwanda’s museums include;
Formerly and commonly known as the national museum of Rwanda, the ethnographic museum is located in Butare and is a home to east Africa’s archeological and ethnographic collections and over 10,000 art facts and photographs are displayed which provides to tourists an awareness of Rwanda during the pre-colonial times, colonial times, during the genocide and in todays modern Africa.
Such ethnographic collections portrays Rwanda’s outstanding social and cultural aspects especially cattle keeping (long horned cattle) commonly known as Inyamibwa. These cows are not reared for meat and milk production but kept for special occasions like marriage, bride price, welcoming the king among others. Therefore if you are on a Rwanda tour and you would like to learn more about the unique Rwandese long horned cattle, include the ethnographic museum on your itinerary.
The museum of natural history
This was formerly known as ‘Kandt House’. It’s located about 10 km from the airport and it’s dedicated to natural sciences which enables tourists to learn more about Rwanda’s wildlife species. It was a home of the German scientist and explorer Richard Kandt in the late 1880s and early 1990s but later in 2008 turned into a national museum in order to explain more about Rwanda’s wildlife biodiversity. The museum is divided into two sections each exhibiting a unique aspect in Rwanda’s natural sciences.
The north section exhibits various local species of wildlife like birds, impalas, zebras, crocodiles, rodents, mountain gorilla fossils, and the rift valley formation process.
The southern section displays mining activities in Rwanda especially in the early days using rudimentary methods and tools. The museum has many maps showing mineral distribution in the country which can be used a lot for study purpose especially by school students.
The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am -5:00pm.
The king’s palace museum
This is located in Rukari and it was formerly known as the museum of ancient Rwandan history. This was king Mutara III Rudahigwa residence and offers Rwanda’s traditional rule (kingdoms). In the ancient times, a traditional thatched house acted as kings palace but when the colonialists came, they constructed a modern palace which acts today as the museum showcasing royal regalia and the kings and royals life styles. Near the museum are the Mwima hills where king Mutara III and his wife Gicanda were buried.
National art gallery- Rwesero
It’s located in Nyanza about 85 km from the capital city- Kigali and it showcases Rwanda’s great works of art, sculptures and pictorials. All the art pieces in the museum show a lot of creativity and originality of Rwanda’s artisans. The museum had been constructed for king Mutara III but he died before occupying it.
The museum is strategically located on the Rwesero hill which offers the tourists with a view of Rwanda’s famous thousand hills.
Presidential palace museum
This is located in the city center and its just about 4 km from the airport. This was once a state house for two Rwandese presidents and a house where the Rwandese genocide was planned before being turned in to a museum. It gives tourists the political aspects of Rwanda. It’s very famous for its flight debris remains since 1994 and the elephant foot table in the master bed room designed from the elephant skin. The museum interior has various wood carvings, paintings and artifacts of Rwanda’s ancient kings.
The museum also has beautiful gardens that are hired for ceremonies like parties, weddings and social gatherings as people learn more about their culture and history.
Museum of environment
This is the first environment museum inaugurated on July 16th this year located in Kibuye sector Karongi district. The museum is also strategically located near Lake Kivu one of Rwanda’s major attractions. The museum exhibits, local medicinal herbs used in Rwanda plus the natural and man made renewable and non renewable energy sources in Rwanda and the rest of the world. The museum also aims at sensitizing the local people about the benefits of protecting the environment and to pass on more conservation messages.
Despite having a rich culture and heritage, Rwanda’s cultural and heritage sites have not been fully explored by tourists to their capacity. Many tourists to Rwanda go for gorilla safaris, chimpanzee tracking and birding. Those who get a chance to visit communities do it after gorilla safaris and yet culture has many tourist products to offer.