Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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HASEN Said, Addis Ababa University IES, Ethiopia

The history and development of museum establishments in Africa are generally considered as colonial enterprises. This characterization covers the timeframe from the end of 19th century to the early stage of the 1960s. In those days, museums used to be established merely to narrate the so-called civilization efforts of the colonial powers. That is why their storylines begin with the arrival of white colonizers, be it military personnel, missionary priests or geology explorers.The trend in Ethiopia was quite similar except that Ethiopia was not a colonized state in many ways, at least during the inception period. Both the National Museum of Ethiopia and Addis Ababa Universities (Institute of Ethiopian Studies Museum and the Natural History Museum) were established not as a result of socio-economic necessity, but rather initiated by expatriate personnel. However, these trends have been dramatically changed since the Ethiopian millennium celebration, which took place in 2000.Not only has the number of museums increased significantly, but they are also distributed more evenly. More importantly these museums have displayed their diverse nature in terms of custodianship and content, to the extent that there are now specialized museums, such as the National Coffee Museum of Bonga and the National Honey Museum in Lalibela.Therefore, this paper will attempt to assess the circumstances under which Ethiopian museums evolved and how they subsequently developed, including identification of aspects in which they have contributed towards regional development endeavors so far.