The Lives and Deaths of an Ethnographic Museum: History, Violence and Curatorial Collaborations in Guinea-Bissau

Ramon Sarró, Ana Temudo


This article discusses the history of the National Ethnographic Museum of Guinea-Bissau (West Africa) and an exhibition we curated about it in Bissau in 2017, which serendipitously led to its reopening. The Museum, which was created in 1988, had ceased to exist because of a civil war in 1998-99. Thanks to a reconstruction of contact prints in the archives of Bissau, we were able to organize an exhibition and to conduct research on the history of the museum. Methodologically, the article illustrates the potential of photography in museum historiography and revitalization. Thematically, it exemplifies the history of museography in West Africa from the mid-1980s through the 1990s, the role of museums in the creation of national heritage, and, by looking at the present situation of the Museum at stake, the fragile place that ethnographic museums have in the politics of culture in today’s Africa.


Ethnographic Museums; History; Guinea-Bissau; Heritage; Photography

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2021 Ramon Sarró, Ana Temudo

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

University Home