Unfortunately, a lot of African art was stolen by European nations. The majority of this African art is now on show in museums throughout Europe and the world. Visit the National Museum of Liberia in Monrovia not only to view African art in its correct place but also to learn an unbiased history of this part of the world.
Ground Floor – African Masks
I was told there used to be a decent sized African mask collection in Monrovia. However, many of these were looted or destroyed during the civil war of the 90’s. That’s in addition to the masks looted by Americans and Europeans during the colonial period. Nonetheless, there’s still a decent collection of around 20 masks on display.
Sande Society art masks are worn solely by women.
First Floor – History of Liberia
There are two things which spring to mind when you first think of Liberia. Firstly, colonization and secondly are of course the civil wars. Both these significant events are explained in detail throughout the first floor of the National Museum of Liberia. What I found particularly interesting was the impact that freed slaves returning from the Americas had on this region. As a matter of fact, freed slaves who returned (Americo-Liberians) began taxing the indigenous population. In 1980, the first non Americo-Liberian president was elected. This lead to the Liberian civil wars.
You may have seen American movies which show African child soldiers. Many of these movies are based on real life events in Liberia where child soldiers were used. Other infamous activities which took place during the Liberian civil wars were brutal mass killings. Charles Taylor is a name associated with Liberia and both these civil wars. There’s a lot of information about Charles Taylor to take in. Did you know he escaped from a Massachusetts high security prison in 1985? Afterwards he had militia training in Libya under Muammar Gaddafi. Following this Charles Taylor was a major player in both Liberian civil wars. Not to mention, he was the president from 1997 – 2003.
Second Floor – Liberia Today
When I visited Monrovia Liberia, George Weah was the current President. He was one of the most successful African footballers. There are several pieces of George Weah memorabilia on display although you’d find better memorabilia on show at his former clubs including, Monaco, Paris SG, AC Milan, Chelsea, Man City and Marseille. He’s the equivalent of David Beckham being the UK Prime Minister or Jurgen Klinsmann being the Chancellor of Germany. As a result of his footballing and political career, George Weah has a very interesting Wikipedia page.
Did you know Liberia had the first ever elected female African head of state? Learn about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018.
Enjoy Your Visit to the National Museum of Liberia in Monrovia
I left the National Museum of Liberia in Monrovia asking myself the question: If the first Portuguese explorers did not arrive in 1461, would all of this terror throughout the years have happened? Finally, the building you’re exploring is an example of an American colonial building. Although you could describe it as Returned Slaves architecture.