The Catholic museum of Bagamoyo is a historic landmark of the town that belongs to the catholic church and is located at the end of Mango drive, in the northern part of the Tanzanian town. It also serves as part of a larger historic site that consists of several of the church's old buildings such as the Livingstone tower, the first and second churches, the baobab tree and a cemetery where some of its earliest missionaries were buried.
The museum itself is located on the ground floor of the building and holds several artifacts, paintings, photographs and even documents that date as far back as the mid 19th century. Some of these artifacts were from the German government of the time, some from the church and some from the locals and slaves that went through the area.
At the building's rear and next to the dispensary is a baobab tree where Madame de Chevalier, a french nurse volunteering at the dispensary tied her donkey using a steel chain. Over the years, the tree grew further to swallow the chain. In 2012 a further 34 chain rings were added to preserve the tree's history.
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A history of the museum
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The museum was originally built in 1876 as a sister's house and part of the Holy Ghost Mission, one of the first christian missionaries in East Africa . The construction was completed in three stages, the ground floor in 1876, then the first floor in 1896 and a final addition of the verandah in 1916. It's ground floor was later on converted to a museum and renovated with the help of the federal republic of Germany . Today, only the ground floor of the building is in use and fully accessible to the public, whereas the top floor remains of limits to all but church officials.What to do there?
Learn a lot about the history and culture of the town of Bagamoyo and the church from the many photographs, paintings, stories, details and documents present at the museum. Most of these are quite interesting but only if you already know about the history of the place, so make sure to brush up before coming here.
Most of the information is given on every artifact in such a way that you probably would not need a guide if you either speak english or swahili, with a maximum reading time of about one hour for the whole museum. Not much walking would be required as the museum building is small.
As an added extra, don't forget to see the book of christian biblical stories rewritten with African characters, mostly funny paintings that you could flip through in less than five minutes. There are several souvenirs on sale that you could buy from the museum itself and a shop next door.
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