National Museum of Ethiopia
The National Museum of Ethiopia (NME), also referred to as the Ethiopian National Museum, is the primary museum in Ethiopia. It is located in the nation's capital, Addis Ababa, near the graduate school of Addis Ababa University.
The museum houses the nation's artistic treasures as well as many of the most precious archaeological finds such as the fossilized remains of early hominids, the most famous of which is "Lucy," the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis. Recently added to the basement gallery is a display on Selam, found between 2000 and 2004. Estimated to be 3.3 million years old, this A. afarensis specimen is considered to be the earliest child.
In 1936, the concept of a museum was first introduced in Ethiopia when an exhibition was opened, displaying ceremonial costumes donated by the royal family and their close associates. The current NME grew from the establishment of the Institute of Archaeology, which was founded in 1958. The institute was founded to promote and facilitate the archaeological research mission in the northern part of Ethiopia by French archaeologists.
The museum started its activities by exhibiting objects from these excavation missions. With the establishment of the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Administration in 1976, the idea came up to open a National Museum, which was supported by the Government. The NME began to operate under the National Act which provides for the protection and preservation of antiquities, and has legislative authority governing all sites and monuments throughout the country of Ethiopia.
Later, the National Museum diversified its activities and organised into three working department, i.e. the conservation department, the documentation department and the exhibition and research department.
The NME at present has four main exhibition sections. The basement is dedicated to archaeological and paleoanthropological sections. This area show the previously mentioned hominids. The first floor contains objects from ancient and medieval periods, as well as regalia and memorabilia from former rulers, who include Emperor Haile Selassie. The second floor show art work in a chronological order, from traditional to contemporary works. These include murals, Afewerk Tekle and other Ethiopian artists. Finally, the third floor has an ethnographic display. Here, the museum tries to give an overview of the cultural richness and variety of the peoples of Ethiopia.
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