Museu Nacional de Anthropologia Angola

Featured Image Source: David Stanley, Under Creative Commons,

The National Museum of Anthropology in Luanda Angola is one of the most important museums in the city. The museum has around 6,000 pieces in its collection. The museum focuses on the archiving, research, collecting and presentation of Angolan history and culture. The museum focuses on precolonial life and has pieces from the various ethnic groups which live within the country including the Khoisan and Bantu groups, (source).

The museum was established in 1976, just as the country had become independent and was starting to descend into civil war, (source&source). It was the first museum institution created by the newly independent country.

The museum is housed in a colonial building from a Portuguese noble family from the 18th century, (source). The building has retained many of the original features and is recognisable from its bright pink colour, (source). The choice of building is interesting for a number of reasons. Most obviously is that hosting a museum showcasing the history of precolonial Angola just a year after independence in a building that was built during colonial times, in a colonial style is unusual, to say the least. One way to look at this decision can be seen as reclaiming the foreignness and using it to showcase its own history. The most likely explanation, however, is that the government need a large building to set up a new museum in and that this building had space and availability.

The building sits in the Coqueiros neighbourhood of the city and is situated on the R. Friedrich Engels road. The building forms a ‘U’ shape around a central courtyard. The building has large 6 sided windows whose sills are painted green and has a thick white border around each window. The roof is tiled in traditional red earth tiles.

The building can be seen as a Pombaline or Plain style architecture, similar to many buildings that were built after the destruction of Lisbon in the 18th century, (source). The buildings functional form, sober ornamentation and Neo-classicistic facade, having a strict rhythm in the placement of window and symmetry, make the building a prime example of this more modest style. The building is surrounded by many buildings in a similar style, most notably the Luanda Cultural Centre which sits directly to its Eastern side.

The building’s interior has been painted white and has lost many of its original features in favour of a more plain interior that could better show of the objects.

The National Museum of Anthropology forms an important part of the education of Angolans in their own history in precolonial times and the museums large and varied collection allows people hours of pleasure within this superb colonial building.


BBC. (2018, March 7). Angola profile – Timeline. Retrieved June 28, 2018
Cardoso, P. (2014, July 17). Museu de Antropologia. Retrieved June 28, 2018
Fodor’s Travel. (n.d.). MUSEU NACIONAL DE ANTROPOLOGIA. Retrieved June 28, 2018
Museus de Luanda. (n.d.). Museu de Antropologia: Primeiro museu Nacional. Retrieved June 28, 2018
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Museu Nacional de Antropologia (Angola). Retrieved June 28, 2018
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Architecture of Portugal. Retrieved June 28, 2018

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