Boma natural history museum

    The Boma natural history museum of is a compound that showcases the natural history, wildlife, culture and artifacts of the Arusha region - Tanzania. It is housed inside what was an old German military outpost and has three separate buildings that are open to the public (the rest being offices), an outdoor mini botanical garden and an outdoor art and crafts gallery.

    One of the three buildings are for wildlife, the other for history of the region's events and the third for archaeological history. The museum is part of the national museums of Tanzania, that also includes the Dar es Salaam museum, Sukuma museum, Mwalimu Nyerere museum and the Makumbusho village museum.Some of the things that can be found at the museum include:

    • Artifacts from excavations of neighbouring areas such as Olduvai Gorge and other dead wildlife
    • A history of the region of Arusha and its people
    • A wildlife section with photographs and taxidermy
    • An arts gallery that displays the work of over 12 of the best local artists
    • Art and crafts lessons from local including painting, drum making etc
    • A mini botanical garden
    • A small pond with some of the local freshwater fish
    • A mini serpentarium
    • A mini zoo with some of the region's rare animals such as an eagle
    • A insect section detailing some of the diseases and problems they cause
    • A taxidermy office
    • Photography of some of the local tribes

    A history of the placeThe Original Boma was built from 1899 to 1900 to be a German military outpost for the region of Arusha. This was to keep a closer eye on the Meru and Arusha tribes, whose opposition they had just defeated in the years 1897 and 1898. It also served as an administrative office and residence for other officials of the colonial rule.

    The defeated warriors were forced to dig out stone with their spears and ferry them to the construction site using their shields, working at least seven hours each day to build the fort. The tribe's women and children were forced to bring banana fiber for thatching while the elderly had to create the mortar for joining the stone from wet mud.

    The final structure was a walled rectangular compound with a trench about 6 feet deep and a barbed wire fence making its outside perimeter. Inside the compound were several buildings, whereas outside and next to it were a coffee plantation and a kitchen garden.

    It was the first modern structure in the whole region and a security stronghold, something that brought more people to the area seeking employment and trade opportunities. When the British took over from the Germans after the first world war, its use as a fort continued, with the front two buildings being used by government officers.

    In 1979, it was turned into a natural history museum by the then independent government of Tanzania. Since then several sections have been added, including the mini botanical garden, a small aquarium - pond, an arts gallery for the local artists that also provides lessons, a wildlife section, a history section and an artifacts section.

    Throughout this whole period, there was a road that approached the compound from the lower south that was lined with trees on either side. This road still exists today, with some of the original trees and has taken the compound's name - Boma road.

    What to do there?Learn about the history of the region of arusha from as early as the late 19th century up until the mid 20th century (the declaration museum has more of 20th century history). You can also learn a lot more about animals and insects that can be found in the area's national parks as well as common homes.

    There also are a lot of artifacts from excavations in the neighbouring areas, like the famous zinjathropus skull from Olduvai gorge (a copy) and life like sculptures of early man for you to view. At the museum's rear is a gallery where some of the local artists showcase as well as create their work.

    If you are lucky, you may catch one of them doing their thing or even create some art of your own under their guidance for a small fee. The art section also provides drum making lessons as well as art for sale. Don't forget to check out the real life eagle, fish and tortoises.

    Location of Boma natural history museumThe Boma Natural history museum of Arusha is located at the uphill end of Boma rd. amidst a tranquil, tree filled neighbourhood of the city of Arusha - Tanzania. It also is well inside the CBD and within close proximity to offices, hotels, restaurants, tour and travel agents and shops. It also lies in the riparian zone of the Themi river, that flows from the slopes of mt. Meru, through the city and out from its southern suburbs. For more information about its location, please see the map below (click to start).

    How to get there?With private transport, you would first need to get to the clock tower, a famous monument of the city, then from there head uphill (north). The museum is the located at the end of the northbound - Boma road that was named after it.

    If you are using public transport then you would need to find mini buses headed to the clock tower or arusha hotel area and get off at the clock tower stop. From there a simple ten minutes walk uphill should get you to the museum.

    ReferencesInformation from a visit to the museum and museum archives

    AbbreviationsCBD - Central Business District

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