Lift a few leaves in a botanical garden in Abidjan and you will find the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire. The masks, furniture, statues, musical instruments and modern works you will discover here will help you enter the daily life of Africa.

Lift the veil on one of life’s mysteries ...

Located in a botanical garden at the corner of Nangui Abrogoua and Carde Boulevards, the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire is made up of:
a main building of 680 square metres used as exhibition halls; a U-shaped building housing offices and the reserve collection; and a rectangular main storage building.
The museum’s collections encompass the material culture of the country: masks, statues, furniture, musical instruments, utensils, textiles, archaeological objects, and contemporary and other works.
Lift a few leaves in a botanical garden in Abidjan and you will find the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire. The masks, furniture, statues, musical instruments and modern works you will discover here will help you enter the daily life of Africa.

Lift the veil on one of life’s mysteries ...

Located in a botanical garden at the corner of Nangui Abrogoua and Carde Boulevards, the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire is made up of:
  • a main building of 680 square metres used as exhibition halls;
  • a U-shaped building housing offices and the reserve collection; and
  • a rectangular main storage building.

The museum’s collections encompass the material culture of the country: masks, statues, furniture, musical instruments, utensils, textiles, archaeological objects, and contemporary and other works.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Glass Painting

The Musée d'Abidjan de Côte d'Ivoire

Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The Musée d’Abidjan was inspired by the creation in 1942 of the Centre Artisanal spearheaded by the artist Pierre Mauzé on the initiative of the governor, Hubert Deschamps.

In March 1944, Jean-Luc Tournier arrived in Abidjan at the Centre Artisanal to set up a local branch of the Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (IFAN) called "CENTRIFAN". The following year, Tournier built an annex, a concrete U-shaped building covered with a thatch roof, around a patio with wood columns carved by Niamien Konan.

In 1947, the director, Bohumil Holas, gradually assembled an entire team. The museum was amalgamated with the Ministère de l’Education in 1960 as a centre for the humanities and since 1972 has been the responsibility of the Département de la Culture.
The Musée d’Abidjan was inspired by the creation in 1942 of the Centre Artisanal spearheaded by the artist Pierre Mauzé on the initiative of the governor, Hubert Deschamps.

In March 1944, Jean-Luc Tournier arrived in Abidjan at the Centre Artisanal to set up a local branch of the Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (IFAN) called "CENTRIFAN". The following year, Tournier built an annex, a concrete U-shaped building covered with a thatch roof, around a patio with wood columns carved by Niamien Konan.

In 1947, the director, Bohumil Holas, gradually assembled an entire team. The museum was amalgamated with the Ministère de l’Education in 1960 as a centre for the humanities and since 1972 has been the responsibility of the Département de la Culture.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Contemporary art can be classified in two ways: the work of professionals, those recognized artists who generally come from schools of fine arts; and the output of self-taught artists from various walks of life.

Over the last few years, the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire has tended to concentrate on a particular group of artists working in a variety of styles. Their work, which is produced in a number of workshops in Côte d’Ivoire, represents the extension of a tradition that is both a demonstration of and witness to the artistic continuity of mankind.

On the other hand, when we examine some so-called traditional works close-up and observe their use of hybrid elements and found materials, we are tempted to ask where the tradition is. Where is the dividing line between traditional and contemporary work? Does tradition not constitute a force in contemporary artistic creation? Can contemporary artistic creation not find a wellspring in tradition?

The creative output of three very different artists provides a partial answer to some of these questions. A link with tradition is the main feature that characterizes their work in gener Read More
Contemporary art can be classified in two ways: the work of professionals, those recognized artists who generally come from schools of fine arts; and the output of self-taught artists from various walks of life.

Over the last few years, the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire has tended to concentrate on a particular group of artists working in a variety of styles. Their work, which is produced in a number of workshops in Côte d’Ivoire, represents the extension of a tradition that is both a demonstration of and witness to the artistic continuity of mankind.

On the other hand, when we examine some so-called traditional works close-up and observe their use of hybrid elements and found materials, we are tempted to ask where the tradition is. Where is the dividing line between traditional and contemporary work? Does tradition not constitute a force in contemporary artistic creation? Can contemporary artistic creation not find a wellspring in tradition?

The creative output of three very different artists provides a partial answer to some of these questions. A link with tradition is the main feature that characterizes their work in general.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

North-Central Côte d’Ivoire is one of the most fertile areas of artistic production. Weaving mills, smithies, sculpture and dyeing proliferate here where men, women and children work at these crafts day in and day out. The liveliness of Senoufo handicrafts is borne out by the various products distributed throughout the world (Africa, Europe, North America and Asia). The most eloquent examples are "Korhogo cloths". This fabric known as "Senoufo cloth" has reached national and international markets. The way this fabric is currently produced and used is moving progressively further from the sociocultural context in which it was first created.

The animal, geometric, abstract or figurative patterns of the cloth hark back to the costumes of initiatory figures whose heads are sometimes shrouded in woven cotton fabric. This costume, which is in the national collection, displays a great many patterns ranging from the abstract to the figurative. When this outfit is stretched out, a serpent and an initiatory figure holding two spears in its hands can be seen on the central band; the other bands are decorated on both sides with geometric motifs, two pairs Read More
North-Central Côte d’Ivoire is one of the most fertile areas of artistic production. Weaving mills, smithies, sculpture and dyeing proliferate here where men, women and children work at these crafts day in and day out. The liveliness of Senoufo handicrafts is borne out by the various products distributed throughout the world (Africa, Europe, North America and Asia). The most eloquent examples are "Korhogo cloths". This fabric known as "Senoufo cloth" has reached national and international markets. The way this fabric is currently produced and used is moving progressively further from the sociocultural context in which it was first created.

The animal, geometric, abstract or figurative patterns of the cloth hark back to the costumes of initiatory figures whose heads are sometimes shrouded in woven cotton fabric. This costume, which is in the national collection, displays a great many patterns ranging from the abstract to the figurative. When this outfit is stretched out, a serpent and an initiatory figure holding two spears in its hands can be seen on the central band; the other bands are decorated on both sides with geometric motifs, two pairs of chameleons and designs that look like spirals, gourds or lines.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • describe The Musée d’Abidjan, Ivory Coast and its Art Collection;
  • describe the traditional art of the Ivory Coast;
  • describe the role of art in Ivory Coast culture.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans