The IFAN Museum (l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire) is one of the oldest, and indeed one of the only, African art museums in West Africa. Located at Rue Emile Zola in Dakar, it houses some of the most important collections of ancient artefacts from Francophone Africa, as well as serving as a prime location during the Dakar Biennale, to promote contemporary African artists.
The museum is also the main cultural research centre for French West African colonies, so there is a huge variety of pieces from Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau. This includes objects and art from all aspects of traditional life including ancient weaponry, tapestry, musical instruments, clothes and masks.
The museum building itself may not be world class, with some shabby corners, and the odd power cut (and a lack of staff), however the collection itself is distinguished.
Ifan’s well-preserved and displayed artefacts provide a window onto the rich cultural legacy of West Africa, and the museum directors ought to be applauded. The quality of the pieces is highly apparent, and casts a clear distinction between the dusty masks sold at the market place, pawned off as antiques, and the real deal.
The second floor of the museum houses temporary exhibitions, often with a more modern edge.
Like most museums in Africa there are different tariffs for residents, non-residents, as well as student discounts. Photos are not permitted inside the IFAN.