The Federal Republic of Somalia reopens its National Museum in Mogadishu

Crowds gathered at the entrance of the National Museum in Somalia to celebrate it’s reopening on 1 July 2020 in Mogadishu©Photo courtesy of the Permanent Delegation of the Federal Republic of Somalia to UNESCO

Somalia is making great strides in reviving its cultural heritage by restoring its main cultural institutions, including the National Museum, National Library and National Theatre. On 1 July 2020, the nation celebrated the reopening of its National Museum after being closed for almost 30 years due to civil war and conflict.

The museum was originally opened in 1933 and ran until 1991 when it was closed down at the start of the civil war, during which time its infrastructure incurred significant damage.

The rehabilitation was financed by the Federal Republic of Somalia and rebuilding began in 2019.

The Museum, which was inaugurated by the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Independence Day, will not only be a place to conserve, interpret and exhibit the significant collections, but will also educate the society, especially the younger generations, on their rich and diverse tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which will contribute to enhancing the values of understanding and peace between the society.
Mr. Abdiqani Ahmed Abudullahi, Permanent Delegation of Somalia to UNESCO

Since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation in the fields of culture and education, which was signed with the President of Somalia during the UNESCO Director General’s historic visit to Mogadishu on 11 February 2020, UNESCO has been working closely with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education, the Somali National Commission for UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of the Federal Republic of Somalia to UNESCO to develop a National Strategy for Culture, which will include a programme of capacity building and support for the staff of the National Museum.

Museums play a fundamental role in promoting sustainable development and intercultural dialogue. I am confident this new national museum will play an ever-increasing role in stimulating creativity, and providing opportunities for research and for formal and informal education, social and human development not only in Mogadishu but across Somalia and around the globe
Mr. Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture
Museums contribute to social cohesion, peacebuilding and sustainable development. UNESCO stands ready to support Somalia in harnessing the potential of this new museum to promote the Somali national identity and improve the livelihoods of communities through local economic development and sustainable cultural tourism.
Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta,Director and Representative of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa
At a time when many museums around the world are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is inspiring to see this national celebration happening in Somalia around the reopening of their new National Museum. ICOM stands ready to support the museum professionals in Somalia with the development of a Somali National Committee for ICOM.
Mr. Peter Keller, Director General of the International Council of Museums (ICOM)

Somalia’s new National Museum responds to the African Union’s Vision 2063 for the Africa We Want, which aims to preserve and promote African cultural heritage by creating awareness of Africa’s vast, dynamic and diverse cultural artefacts and Africa’s continuing influence on world cultures in art, music, language and science. It also reflects the spirit of the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the protection and promotion of museums, their Diversity and their Role in Society, which was adopted by UNESCO Member States in 2015. The Recommendation also highlights the significance of museums and collections in some of the fundamental missions and actions of UNESCO, notably in heritage preservation, creativity, promotion of cultural and natural diversity, education, scientific progress, and communication.


For more information on UNESCO’s actions to support the Culture sector in Somalia, please contact Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Regional Advisor for Culture in the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa,