The "Alexandre Sènou Adandé" Ethnographic Museum in Porto-Novo was created in 1957 by the Dahomey Institute of Applied Research (IRAD), using the collections of the old French Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) that had been located in Dakar, Senegal. The museum's current building officially opened on June 29, 1966. On August 28, 1993, the institution was named the "Alexandre Sènou Adandé" Ethnographic Museum (MEASA) to pay homage to the man whose name it bears. The former head of the IFAN Department of Ethnology, Adandé is a skilled African ethnologist, Benin politician and international public servant who worked very hard to ensure that the museum would open to safeguard Beninšs cultural heritage.
MEASA is like many African and world museums in that it manages a space originally designed for other functions. The building that houses its collections was actually built around 1922 as a residence for the Principal of the Porto-Novo Central City School. It later became an orphanage. Subsequently, senior colonial officers were lodged in the building and for a period it also served as offices for the Ministry of Education. The colonial building was designed in an Afro-Brazilian style and was constructed on concrete pilings. Later, the spaces between the outside pilings were filled in and the style of the building became very classical with a ground floor and first floor. Today the ground floor is half-buried and is used as a temporary exhibition hall and storage.
MEASA's national mandate means that collections of artefacts representing many socio-cultural groups in the Republic of Benin are displayed there. Several categories of objects are included in its collections weapons, tools of traditional trades, musical instruments, religious objects, attributes of power, metal items, domestic, ornamental and religious furniture and graphics.
MEASAšs administrative and technical services include reception, exhibition and animation, conservation and restoration, research and documentation, security and maintenance as well as a secretariat. These services are the responsibility of the curator, Colette GOUNOU, a museographer (is this an English word?), and a preventive conservation technician, assisted by an assistant curator and museographer (is this an English word?), Albert HOUNKPEVI. There are seven other staff members who, together with the curator and assistant curator, provide leadership for the work of the museum.