New Materials and Contexts

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Fon peoples, Benin, museum. Photo by Dana Rush.

Museums provide another example of the way national ideology merges the past and present. Often former buildings or places of historical importance are transformed to become sites of cultural heritage. One museum in Ouidah in the Republic of Benin, for example, is the old Portuguese enclave for slaving and commerce, when this region was under Portuguese rule until independence of Dahomey in 1960. The enclave has now been transformed into a museum about the Slave Trade, with exhibits addressing not only the history of slavery to which Fon people of this region were subjected, but also the populations of former Fon slaves residing in Haiti, Cuba, and other parts of the African Americas.