Considering Tanzania is home to many ethnicities and tribes, the tradition of art-making has come in various forms and goes way back. There are many different types of art to discover in Tanzania, most notably the carved doors of Zanzibar and local paintings and carvings, which vary from region to region
If art is your thing, or you fancy spending a little time in some of the country’s most fascinating museums, then here is all you need to know about Tanzania’s art and museum culture.
If you love spotting artwork in the countries you visit, you will be mesmerized by the colors and vibrancy you will find in both traditional and modern paintings in Tanzania. We have compiled a list of a few noteworthy galleries, which you should not miss out on if you plan to seek out some great works of art. Of course, when it comes to localized art, one of the best ways to source this is by getting connected with a ‘Destination Expert,’ who can give you some tips and advice on the best local places to go and perhaps one-off exhibitions. For the time being, make a note of these top spots, which will be a dream to discover.
Dr. Bulugu Art Gallery:
Located in Zanzibar, this place has a wide range of art from local artists, which are all handmade, and it is a great place to have a browse the collection and maybe even find a treasure to take home.
Hurumzi Henna Art Gallery:
This museum is truly unique since the artists here transform traditional henna style art into modern art by placing It onto canvas. The tradition of henna goes way back and is generally painted onto women’s hands and feet, especially at celebrations and festivals. Still, this new technique of transferring the patterns onto canvas has become a unique iconic style and is something to discover while in Zanzibar.
Cultural Arts Centre Zanzibar:
Not only is this a great place to find handmade crafts and souvenirs by local Zanzibarian artists, but it is a place where you can meet the artists themselves and even take part in a creative workshop if you fancy learning some techniques for soap making screen printing and painting, naming but a few.
Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society:
Founded in the late 60s by Edward Saidi Tingatinga, this gallery is an excellent blend of tradition and innovation, with a significant focus on sustainability and producing eco-friendly artwork. It is, in fact, one of the most extensive African art galleries on the continent, and it is also a great place to buy pieces of artwork, knowing your money is going towards quality, sustainable work at an affordable price.
Museums to visit
Old Boma Museum:
This is a natural history museum in Arusha and is famous for its exhibits on human evolution, the largest permanent wildlife exhibition in the world, and its presentation on entomology. You will learn about the Boma and German colonialism in this region, with many artifacts, maps, and photos to enable you to discover more.
The National Museum:
Located in the largest city in Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam, this museum is a great stop-off to discover the traditions and culture of the local people. Having opened in 1940, it has grown to become one of the major museums in the country, with exhibits featuring human fossils extracted during the ‘Leakey digs,’ the history of slavery in the country, and local traditions and events from the colonial times.
The Tanzanite Experience:
This is one not to be missed for those who have an interest in rare gemstones. Here, you will learn everything you need to know about the history and rarity of Tanzanite with the aid of some great interactive tours, visual exhibits, and even a replica of a mine shaft just like the original ones which once extracted the gemstone. This is a great place not only to learn but to have fun too.
The Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre:
This famous cultural heritage center is Africa’s first of its kind. It delves into the culture of Tanzania’s 120 plus tribes, which is a fascinating way to discover the diversity of this East African country. For art lovers, this is also a great stop off since it has a great collection of African art, keeping African art alive.
You can find unique masks, African sculptures, paintings, and carvings and the museum itself prides itself on having three themes on display History (complete with ethnographic artifacts), Wildlife (paintings and sculptures of animals roaming the African savannahs), and Soul (which captures Africa’s energy and essence).
Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village and Museum:
To get an accurate, in-depth understanding of the Maasai people, their traditions, and their culture, it is a great experience to visit a traditional village, and Olpopongi is a great starting point in your African journey. Visiting a Maasai village is a fantastic activity and cultural background, and you might even consider one of these tours, which incorporates some village visits.
Arusha Declaration Museum:
If you want to learn a bit more about Tanzania’s colonial past, which has, of course, shaped the country as you see it today, then this is the museum for you. This is a one-stop-shop to learn about the fight for independence, the colonial history, and the Arusha Declaration, which saw Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere, outline his ideas and plans for the country.
Arusha Declaration Monument:
If you find yourself in Arusha, you will most likely come across this famous monument, which is a symbol of Tanzania’s most prominent political statement, which was known as ‘The Arusha Declaration.’
This is a landmark monument and popular tourist attraction in Tanzania’s most prominent city Dar Es Salaam. And it consists of a white Oblisk with a replica of the Uhuru Torch, a symbol of freedom and light, and is considered one of the country’s national symbols.
This monument is in Dar Es Salaam and symbolizes honor for the African soldiers. They fought in the British Campaign against the German Army, in East Africa, during World War 1.
Azania Lutheran Church:
Built by the German missionaries in 1898, this popular tourist attraction and historical landmark is in Dar Es Salaam and still serves as a cathedral for the area’s locals. It is well known for its Bavarian-style architecture, setting it apart from other buildings, and can be spotted by its red-tiled roof and bright white walls.