Who said that Africa is only about wildlife and exoticism? The National Museum (Peace Memorial Museum) of Tanzania changes that perception. Located in the heart of Zanzibar, it is a great place to start your journey into the intriguing past of Tanzania, its culture and traditions.
Hosting a wealth of craft items, artefacts from the tumultuous age of the sultans and Chinese explorers, such as an ancient palm oil-powered bicycle lamp, and the world-famous David Livingstone’s medical chest, the National Museum (Peace Memorial Museum) was established as a peace memorial and also provides a home to numerous land tortoises, which can be seen every here and there in the museum garden.
Apart from traditional carvings, Chinese porcelain items and relics from the era of the sultans, the museum’s collection also includes wildlife exhibits, such as reptiles and birds.
Designed by the British architect J.H. Sinclair, the building reflects the Arab influence so common in Zanzibar, reminding in a way of the eastern architecture of Istanbul and India.
Also known as Beit el Amani, the Peace Memorial Museum was opened in December 1925, and at that time all museums were in acute need of maintenance, with locals having little to no regard of the historical sites and their importance in the development of tourism in Zanzibar, according to the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Tourism, Culture and Sports Omar Hassan.
"We need to conserve our norms, traditions and culture. Protecting and maintaining the Museum should be one of our great role in safeguarding our culture. Some of the things in the Museum, showing our history in tradition, are unique," he said. From the Horse’s Mouth:
“The peace Memorial is a fine building (style wise, I think I'd class it colonial Art Deco), intended to commemorate the end of the First World War (that definitely touched Zanzibar). However, nothing is left from the building's original contents. From other reviews I find that the collection changes quite often. During my visit, the subject was crafts, with a nice corner about kangas' wooden block printing, and some interesting carpentry. In all barely worth the (low) entry fee. If you happen to pass by-it is definitely worth a peek--if only to enjoy the fine, cool interior.” (Yoc 11)