Zanzibar Museums and Art Galleries

(Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, East Africa)

It is only in recent years that the full extent of Zanzibar's heritage has been fully appreciated, with many fascinating exhibits showing its rich history in various museums and cultural institutions.

Thanks to the latest archaeological and historical research, the role that this part of eastern Africa has played on the world stage is becoming better understood.

Although Zanzibar doesn't have a huge number of museums and art galleries, what is on offer is likely to appeal to tourists in search of a meaningful attraction. The House of Wonders is perhaps its most popular with international visitors, particularly since it is conveniently situated within Stone Town.

Palace Museum / Beit El Sahel

Address: Mizangani Road, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
The Palace Museum at Stone Town once served as the 'town residence' of the Busaidi sultans. Overlooking the harbour, the venue comes with some great views. Visitors can admire the rooms which are still furnished in the style that would have been typical of Zanzibar's royal residents in the 19th century.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge

House of Wonders Museum of History and Culture

Address: Mizangani Road, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
Built in the late 19th century as a ceremonial palace, the House of Wonders is, in itself, a fine piece of colonial architecture. The mansion was eventually turned into a museum and opened to the public in 2005.

Even today, it is still very much a work in progress. Permanent exhibitions in the museum cover such topics as the maritime culture of the Indian Ocean and the Swahili Coast, the history and architecture of Stone Town, Zanzibar's industrial heritage, and the role that the country played in the commercial life of Africa.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

The Old Dispensary / Stone Town Cultural Centre

Address: Mizingani Road, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
It is hard to ignore one of Stone Town's most richly decorated and ornate buildings. The Old Dispensary boasts intricately carved balconies and various other adornments, which all reflect the multicultural nature of life in Stone Town. Built to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, it was intended that it would become a hospital. However, these plans never came to fruition and in the end, it was used as a dispensary for medicines.

Following the Revolution of 1964 in Zanzibar, the building was taken over by the government, while restoration work began in the 1990s. Today, The Old Dispensary is home to a small museum that is devoted to telling the story of the building's restoration and the history of the waterfront district. Today, the building is also known as the Stone Town Cultural Centre.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

Peace Memorial Museum (Beit el Amaan / House of Peace)

Address: Creek Road / Kaunda Road, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
The Peace Memorial Museum in Stone Town has sadly fallen victim to structural deterioration. Hence, many of its most significant exhibits have been moved to the House of Wonders for sake keeping, whilst the attraction's fate is being debated. Two possible suggestions include a children's museum or an exhibition relating to the environment.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

Real African Art Gallery

Address: Gizenga Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
Set up in 2001, this privately owned Stone Town art gallery is a showcase for East African artists. Works on display include oil paintings, etchings, wood cuts, carvings and Makonde statues. Of note, many of the artists are professionals who have already exhibited on the international arts scene.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 19:00
Admission: free