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".
Lucy is the name of the nearly complete skeleton of an Australopithecus Afarensis. She was the first nearly complete skeleton recovered for the species, found in 1974 at the Afar Locality, a site in the Hadar archaeological region on the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia. Lucy is about 3.18 million years old, and is called Denkenesh in Amharic, the Ethiopian national language.
Basic contents of the four exhibition sections are as follows.
1. Paleontological and Pre-historical Section
The section of the museum displays the most significant discoveries of stone tools, fossil evidences of hominid species among which a 3.2 million years old fossil nick named LUCY or DENKINESH is the most famous and other animals found from the rift valley and other animals found from the rift valley and other major archaeological sites (Hadar, Middle Awash, Omo basin, Melka Kunture etc) dating back to millions of years. These dating back to millions of years; these discoveries attest to the presence of a sophisticated way of life of our ancestors.
Here visitors appreciate the sophistication it required to produced and use stone implements. The prehistoric part of the museum has rich collections dealing with the human origins.
2. Historical Archaeology Section
According to the evidences obtained by archaeologists, the history of Ethiopia dates back to the 1st millennium BC on the basis of diverse historical evidences, Ethiopia is internationally categorized among those countries of the world that are recognized as having a tremendous cultural and historical heritage.
The displayed objects in this section show few of the findings depicting the early history from the pre-Axumite times to the 20th century AD.
Among the most important archaeological objects are pottery, minted coins, crescent, disc, bronze identity marks, neck crosses, ancient scripts, ruins of monuments, different kinds of household items... etc that clearly manifest the Axumite civilization was at its zenith.
3. The Art Section
The national Museum of Ethiopia is the home for over 1500 traditional and contemporary works of art such as painting, drawings, graphics, Sculptures. In the ART section we provide cultural and education resources and nurture a culturally diverse and shard identity.
In the art section visitors will also see the works of world - famous Ethiopian artists such as the Most Honourable World Laureate Maitre Artist AFFWORK TEKLE.
4. The Ethnographic Section
Ethiopia is home for various nations, nationalities and people who have diverse languages, cultures and unique ways of life.
This section of the museum is organized to share the richness and variety of the cultures and traditions of the peoples of Ethiopia. Visitors can realize that one may only have a glimpse to the diversified cultures of the country since much detailed study and collocations remain to be done by scholars.
Research Works at the Museum
A number of researchers in the human sciences have been undertaking their work in the museum's laboratory in the past years.
Extensive scientific activities are under progress both at the museum and major sites within the country (Hadar, Middle Awash, Omo basin, Melka Kunture, Fejej, Gona, Busidima Dikika, Bouri etc). The research is conducted in several disciplines including physical anthropology, ethno-history, archaeology and related fields of study.
At present a large number of prominent Ethiopia and foreign scientists along with their associates and students make regular use of the museum's laboratory and its collections that has become one of the major international research centres.
The NMA is planning to improve its facilities and services in various aspects to mention just a few:
Audio video presentations about the most remarkable hominid findings such as LUCY and other historical and culture heritages (Axum, Tiye, Lalibela, Gondar, Semien mountains, Awash and Omo basin etc) that are among the world cultural heritage list. The films also feature many other sites, fauna and flora of Ethiopia.
The NME has also finalized its preparations to open a souvenir shop where visitors can buy a variety of replicas of artefacts and casts of important fossil discoveries.
The first museum was founded as apart of the national library in 1944. When for the first time an exhibition was opened to the public only a few ceremonial costumes donated by the Royal family and their close associates were displayed.
Later the foundation of the institute of archaeology played a pivotal role in the promotion of the museum. It was established 1952 to promote and facilities the archaeological research mission in the northern part of the country conducted by the French archaeologists
The mission obtained a number of valuable historical and archaeological findings through its archaeological research.
Later the museum transferred to the present Ethiopia national bank employees club. Eventually, it was moved to the present place.
The archaeological museum, founded in 1955, began is activities by exhibiting a few archaeological collections mainly from the northern part of country.
In 1966, however, the idea of opening a national museum and the establishment of the Ethiopian cultural heritage administration got and support from the government.
Thereafter, the NME began to operate under the national act, which provided the legal protection and preservation of antiquities and had legislative authority governing over all the archaeological and paleoanthropological sites and monuments within Ethiopia.
The Ethiopia National Museum is located between Arat Kilo and Sidist Kilo and has two buildings habitually called the old and the new buildings.
The old building was constructed in 1935 during the Italian occupation for the residence of the Italian mayor of Addis Ababa. After the Italian evacuated the country, the building was given to the ministry of foreign affairs. It had various functions before the ministry of foreign affairs vacated in 1967 and converted in to museum.
The new museum building was designed and constructed by the ministry of construction between the years 1978 to 1981 with the fund obtained from the USAID. While in constructing the building UNESCO consultants contributed much in advising on the arrangement of the exhibition galleries.
In 1992 the national museum has transferred its collections from the old building to the new one and reorganized the temporary exhibitions are also organized often by using selected objects from the museum storage on the basis of certain themes and in collaboration with other institutions as well as regional museums lectures and documentary film shows are offered regularly to visitors.
The museum is open for visitors everyday of the week except on national holidays.
Time: 8: 30am - 5: 30 pm.
Entrance Fee (Ethiopian Birr)
Ethiopians: 2.00 (Adult)
0.50 (Children and Student)
National Museums of Ethiopia
P.O. Box 76
Tel: +251 111 574165
+251 111 117150
+251 111 119113
Fax: +251 111 553188