Madagascar Museums and Art Galleries

(Madagascar, MG, Africa)

Andafiavaratra Museum (Musee Andafiavaratra) photoThe cultural and heritage centres of Madagascar are still in many respects in an early stage of development. Several can be found located within the country's principal universities. Antananarivo has a number of small museums, which exhibit artefacts relating to Madagascar's natural history.

This rather splendid palace, also known as the Palais d'Andafiavaratra, was built in the late 19th century in the same style as the nearby Queen's Palace. Designed by British architect William Pool for Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, the palace features four towers and was built on three levels. Over the years, it has been a prime minister's residence, army barracks and a law court. In 1976, a fire destroyed most of the original building, although it has since been restored. The building currently displays a number of items rescued from the fire and is today best known as the Andafiavaratra Museum.

Outside of the capital city, museums and galleries are more limited. Nevertheless, it is worth taking the time and trouble to hunt out a few - they are invaluable in helping to give you a better picture of life in Madagascar, both today and in days gone by.

Further picture showing the Andafiavaratra Museum (Musee Andafiavaratra)

Andafiavaratra Museum (Musee Andafiavaratra)

Address: Lalana Raonivalo, Antananarivo, Madagascar, MG, Africa
Located in Antananarivo's south-easterly neighbourhood of Avaradrova and formerly the residence of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, the Andafiavaratra Museum is just a short stroll down from the Rova (Queen's Palace) attraction and is easy to spot, since it is located within a grand Baroque-style palace with bright pink architecture. Step inside to find a large collection of portrait paintings, antique furnishings, military uniforms and all manner of paraphernalia relating to the monarchs of Merina, including a picture of Queen Ranavalona scowling, as well as the Merina crown jewels themselves. The English captions mean that you will find it easy to understand what you are looking at. In the courtyard, the traditional wooden huts come as a pleasant surprise.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 10:00 to 17:00
Admission: entry with Rova ticket

Museum of Art and Archaeology (Musee de l'Art et de l'Archeologie)

Address: 17 Rue Dok Villette, Antananarivo, Madagascar, MG, Africa
Tel: +261 22 210 47
Managed by the University of Antananarivo's Institute of Civilization, the Museum of Art and Archaeology is to be found within central Antananarivo's Isoraka neighbourhood. Set up in 1970 primarily as a research institute but also as a means of promoting Madagascar's cultural history, this attraction has grown greatly in stature over the years, becoming a major repository of some 7,000 artefacts relating to the country's archaeology and art. Particular highlights at the Musee de l'Art et de l'Archeologie, as it is known locally, include a collection of artefacts once used by sorcerers, as well as some old musical instruments and intriguing funerary sculptures (aloalo).
Open hours: Tuesday to Friday - 12:00 to 17:00, Saturday - 13:00 to 16:00
Admission: donations suggested

Museum of Ethnology and Paleontology (Musee d'Ethnologie et de Paléontologie)

Address: Tsimbazaza, Antananarivo, Madagascar, MG, Africa
Tel: +261 24 517 78
Antananarivo's natural history museum is a great place to visit if you are interested in getting to grips with the prehistory and natural history of Madagascar'. The Musee d'Ethnologie et de Paléontologie is home to an abundance of stuffed animals and skeletons of long-extinct local wildlife, including giant lemurs the improbable-sounding elephant bird (genus Aepyornis), a huge indigenous flightless bird believed to have died out in the 17th century and capable of laying eggs more than 150 times larger than an actual chicken egg. Also on display are exhibits which tell the story of the country's many ethnic groups through their customs and traditional crafts.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge

Regional Museum of the University of Toliara (Musee Regional de l'Universite de Toliara)

Address: Toliara, Madagascar, MG, Africa
Located close to Toliara's market, the Musee Regional de l'Universite de Toliara has recently enjoyed much renovation work and contains some interesting and downright strange exhibits. There is a whole host of information about local traditions and culture, as well as an actual egg from the extinct elephant bird. Particularly unusual is a face mask, decorated with actual human teeth and dating back many centuries.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:00 to 11:30, 14:30 to 17:30
Admission: charge

National Centre for Oceanographic Research / Oceanographic Research Museum (Musee Océanographique de Recherche)

Address: Sarodravay Marodoka, Nosy Be, Madagascar, MG, Africa
Tel: +261 32 029 3168
Run as part of the National Oceanographic Research Centre, the Musee Océanographique de Recherche is home to nearly 600 species of marine animals, including sea turtles, fish, shellfish, algae and authentic reproductions of coral reefs. Therefore, with such an appealing theme, the Oceanographic Centre is especially suitable for families on holiday with young children, whilst also serving as an educational attraction.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge

Toamasina Regional Museum (Toamasina le Musee Regional)

Address: University of Toamasina, Madagascar, MG, Africa
Set up in 1991, this tiny museum at the University of Toamasina somehow manages to encompass a myriad of different aspects of life in the country, from fishing and farming tools to archaeological artefacts and local handicrafts. Whilst it is fair to say that the Toamasina le Musee Regional may not be a must-see attraction, it is worth looking out for if you are headed in this direction and interested in regional history.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 11:30, 14:30 to 17:30
Admission: charge

Toliara University Museum (Musee d'Université de Toliara)

Address: Toliara, Madagascar, MG, Africa
It would be tempting to spend the whole of your time in Toliara simply soaking up the sun on the beach. This would be a shame, though, as you would miss out on a visit to this fascinating small museum. Run by the local university, the Musee d'Université de Toliara is the ideal place to find out about the numerous tribes that live in and around the town. Artefacts here include fetishes used in black magic, colourful tribal masks, and a host of woodcarvings and relics.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 15:00
Admission: charge