Dakar's position on the Cape Verde peninsula and its fascinating past mean it offers many superb attractions. If you're keen to find out more about Dakar's rich history, the nearby Théodore Monod African Art Museum (formerly known as the IFAN Museum of African Arts) investigates all aspects of the region's heritage and culture.
Absorb the rich antiquity of Senegal
Previously known as the IFAN Museum of West African Art, this small but comprehensive museum covers all aspects of African culture. Discover everything from traditional dress and carvings to musical instruments, tools, masks, lively exhibits of masks, carvings, fabrics, tools and more.
One of the oldest art museums in West Africa
The Musée de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, also known as IFAN, the ‘Fundamental Institute of Black Africa', was promoted by Léopold Senghor, the country's first President. In December 2007. Its official title was changed to The Théodore Monod African Art Museum ("Musée Théodore Monod d'Art africain"), after the French naturalist Théodore André Monod, former director of IFAN. The Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN) institute, was founded 1936 under the Popular Front government in France. When IFAN was transferred to Cheikh Anta Diop University in 1960, the building at Place Soweto near the National Assembly of Senegal was converted into a museum. Today, it is one of the most prestigious centers for the study of African culture and part of the Cheikh Anta Diop University. As the main cultural research center of the colonies of French West Africa, it contains important collections from across Francophone Africa.
Exhibitions delve into African art and culture with more than 9000 objects on display, including more than 300 that are presented to the public permanently. Funerary masks, terracotta statuettes, drums made from animal skins, and many other works are spread out over the two major thematic pavilions of the museum, both of which also welcome exhibitions on traditional African art and ethnographic objects. Marvel at beautiful fabrics and carvings, drums, musical instruments and agricultural tools. Get an excellent overview of styles with items from across the region (including Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Benin and Nigeria). In a smaller pavilion, discover scenes of everyday life, like ceremonies related to birth and funerals and the symbolism of masks, and rites such as the appeasement of ancestors, common in some tribes. If you are not a fan of history and ethnography, check out the exhibitions of contemporary African art. The museum is one of the regular locations used in the Dakar Biennale exhibition "Dak'Art", showing art by contemporary African and diaspora artists.