Museums, Art Galleries and Centres in the Gambia

Monday, April 30, 2007

Alliance Franco Gambienne
Alliance Franco-Gambienne is an autonomous association administered by a committee composed of Gambian and French personalities belonging to the economic, cultural and academic world. It belongs to the international network of roughly 1200 Alliance Française.
It also benefits from financial aid from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with which it works as a partner.
Regular events and art exhibitions take place at the Alliance.

Location: Kairaba Avenue, Kanifing
Contact: P.O. Box 2930, Serrekunda; Phone (+220) 437 54 18,
Fax (+220) 437 41 72; E-mail:  or  
Director's E-mail:

Bansang Art Gallery
Bansang Art Gallery is an eye-captivating and fascinating outfit located about 315 KM from the Gambia capital Banjul. It is specialized in artistic designs, traditional musical instrument and still-life paintings with printings of all nature.

Gambia National Museum in Banjul
The Gambia National Museum has as its primary goal the collection and preservation of artifacts documenting the material culture of The Gambia, for use as tourist attractions and as important aids to introducing the value of the heritage into information programmes for the local population and in the country's school syllabus.
The exhibitions and programmes therefore, focus on those contributions made by Gambians to the arts, religion, politics, sports and technology. In so doing, the National Museum and Historic Sites museums in the provinces will aid in the recovery, understanding and appreciation of Gambian history and culture and hence provide a continuous source of knowledge and encouragement for future generations.

Interest in the collection of artifacts and the establishment of a museum goes back to the sixties and early seventies. A purely voluntary organization known as 'Friends of the National Museum Association' (FNlJA) was set up in 1970 and started collecting objects with the aim of establishing a museum.
In 1971, it organized its first temporary exhibition at the then Bathurst City Council Hall. In 1974, the Monuments and Relics Act was enacted, which in turn established the Monuments and Relics Commission (MRC) in 1976. The Commission was entrusted with the responsibility to acquire and maintain on behalf of Government Museums although it plays in reality a purely advisory role.
In late 1983, a Museums and Antiquities Division was created out of the Oral History and Antiquities Division, till then the arm of Government responsible for museum development and monument affairs. The new Museums and Antiquities Division was given responsibility for safeguarding the material heritage in general, and for the Gambia National Museum and for the country's National monuments in particular.

Opening hours
9.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Thursday
9.00 am to 5.00 pm Friday to Sunday

The Museum
On February 18, 1985 the Gambia National Museum was officially opened to the public by His Excellency the President, Sir Dawda Kairaba. Jawara, as part of The Gambia's Twentieth Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
The National Museum's collections cover a range of topics, periods and geographical locations. At present, the permanent displays constitute the Museum's main public service. The space allotted to them must comprise at least 50 per cent of the Museum's total accommodation, the remainder being allocated to the Artefact Store, Records Office, Educational Resource Hall, Workroom, Darkroom and four offices.
The Permanent displays are divided into history and ethnography sections, The main hall and lower floor house the ethnography exhibition which displays indigenous industries and technology, music and dance. Located on the upper floor are the history and archaeology sections,
which together display human cultural development in the region from the Paleolithic period to post-Independent Gambia.

New acquisitions of artefacts, books, historical documents, works of art and photographs will be placed on display or in the Museum's reserve collection.

Getting there:
The museum is located on Independence Drive in the countries capital.
Banjul is very well served by private and public transport going into, out of, and around the city. Mini-vans leave from Bakau and Serrekunda car park, opposite the National Museum from early morning until late at night. In the city you can join any of the yellow taxi cars with green stripes which might be going you way.

Leaving Banjul for Bakau, join a mini-van at Bakau Car Park, opposite the National Museum. You can grab a seat on a Serrekunda mini-van bound from outside the Gamtel headquarters or from anywhere along Independence Drive.

Gaya Art Café
Gaya Art Café has a wide range of African Art, gift items and jewelry from across the continent. Art from local artists that has been produced in collaboration with Gaya is also for sale.
Located on the Senegambia Highway, next to the Senegambia Craft Market.
Contact Details: Tel:(220) 4464022, Email:

Juffureh Museum
Across the River from James Island on the north bank are the villages of Albreda and Juffureh; the former a French-dominated slave trading post and the latter popularised by Alex Haley when he traced his ‘Roots’ back to this typical Mandinka settlement with a history of involvement in the slave trade.
Juffureh,Alex Haley’s ancestral home; and the site of the Maurel Freres Building, now housing a small museum on the Slave Trade in the Senegambia. The building was originally built by the British around 1840 and was last used by a Lebanese trader called Maurel, from whom it takes its name.

Getting there:
The Albreda / Juffureh / James Island complex is forty minutes by road from Barra which is connected to Banjul by ferry. The ferry crossing normally takes about 30 minutes. When running on schedule the ferry makes six to eight trips to Barra daily. Visitors can either join an excursion from Banjul, organised through a tour operator or they can make their own way by ferry and bush taxi. There is a rest house called the "Home At Last Hostel", for those wishing to stay in the village.

July 22nd Arch in Banjul
Arch 22 was built to commemorate the military takeover of government on 22nd July 1994. It was built in 1996 by the then military government and marks the entrance to the city of Banjul. It was proclaimed a National monument in 2002.

Getting there:
The arch can be reached by simply taking a taxi to Banjul, the capital, and is on the main approach to the city.

Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool & Museum, Bakau
Kachikally Sacred Crocodile pool is one of the leading tourist attractions in The Gambia. There are over 80 crocodiles in and around the pool which was founded over 500 years ago by the Bojang clan.
The pool is said to aid infertile women and bestow luck on individuals. The pool's crocodilian residents have since become so tame, that they allow visitors to pet them, and seem to prefer fish over red meat.

There is also a museum, souvenir shop, a refreshment bar as well as a 6 acre mini-forest which has a nature trail & is home to many tropical bird species,  local mammals & reptiles. Bakau Kachikally is just a 10 minute walk to the golden beach at Cape Point and just 5 minutes walk to Bakau Tourist Craft Market.

How It All Started: An Oral History
Bakau Village was founded over 530 years ago by the Bojang family's ancestor, Chomping Bojang, on a day when he and his wife Kumba and sons Tambass Bojang, Jally-Kumba Bojang and daughter Mye Metta Bojang were at their home settlement, 150 meters from the pool. An unknown woman approached the family, and cried for help, she said, “My child fell into a well in the forest”, whereby Chomping Bojang instructed his two sons Tambass and Jally to go together to the well (pool) to rescue the child.

On approaching the pool a child’s cries was heard. Tambas got down into the well and found the child sitting on a rock surrounded by a spring of water.

Chomping subsequently said to Jally Kumba “Lift the child” which he did and gave the child to his sister who placed the child on the back of the unknown woman. The unknown woman declared that she was not a human-being but a spirit living in the forest with her parents and relatives. “As you people came first and settled within here and found us, we decided to challenge your family, whether you could be helpful in such a critical situation. But now you have proven yourselves as good neighbours. This pool belongs to you people."

"The pool water is naturally blessed for women seeking to bear children and those wishing to have peace in their lives”. She further said that the pool was to be named “Kachikally”, because the child is being lifted up. She also instructed them to find an animal to live in the pool. All the secret values were transferred to Chomping and his family for generations to come. Kachikally is a blessed sacred pool; many come to seek blessings and to have their personal problems solved.

How the Crocodiles Came to the Pool
As explained by one of the Bojang family ancestors, Ansu-Kama Bojang, it happened a day when Tambass and Jalley Kumba went fishing, accompanied by their sister Mye-Metta, around a swamp area called ‘Tambe-Koba’ which was about 400 meters from the pool. They caught two small Nile Crocodiles which they decided to entrust to the sacred Kachikally Pool. The spirit of the pool accepted their wish and promised to take care of the crocodiles for generations to come. Tambas and Jalley fed the crocodiles with fish, they also took care of the surrounding forest and the pool whenever it needed re-digging.

Ever since then the original Bojang family have been the custodians of the pool and must never seek to profit from it personally.

Currently the sacred crocodile pool has around 80 crocodiles which are tame and are spread out in and around the pool which is covered in water lillies. The custodian family of the pool are the Bojang family who are were the founding family of Bakau village & have cared for the pool and its crocodilian inhabitants for over 500 years.

Kachikally Sacred Pool is widely known locally for its healing powers and as a place where people pray for blessings. It is a place of last resort for infertile women who wish to conceive. Many others with long-term ailments or misfortunes also come to the pool. People make a humble petition to the Bojang family by bringing Kola-nuts and other small offers. In the case of a woman who is barren, once she has been washed, she is told to keep faithful to her husband and "not to shake hands with another man" for a year (a local expression not to commit adultery). Faithfulness and prayer over the next year should bring forth a child. After giving birth, the woman brings the child to Kachikally Sacred Pool where the baby is washed to ensure its well-being. 

The Nile Crocodiles first came to the pool, as explained by one of the Bojang family's ancestors, Ansu-Kama Bojang, it happened a day, over 500 years ago,  when Tambass and Jalley Kumba (the children of the founder of Bakau village) went fishing, accompanied by their sister Mye-Metta, (over 500 years ago) around a swamp area called ‘Tambe-Koba’ which was about 400 meters from the pool. They caught two small Nile Crocodiles which they decided to entrust to the sacred Kachikally Pool. The spirit of the pool accepted their wish and promised to take care of the crocodiles for generations to come.

The Kachikally Museum is part of the Kachikally Sacred Pool complex  and is a community owned museum located in Bakau, 12 Km. from the Gambia's capital, Banjul. It was opened in 2004 and has a display collection of around 1,000 historical objects housed in 4 African styled round huts. The theme of the exhibits is 'Ethnography of The Gambia'; it displays cultural artifacts from all the ethnic groups of The Gambia. There are sections on music, initiation rites. local crafts, traditional medicine and agriculture. The museum has a staff of 10 which is headed by a museum keeper.

It is the fervent desire of the museum to contribute and participate in all the activities of the African and international museum and heritage communities. The museum is under the custodianship of the Bojang Family of Bakau.

Email:; Phone: (220) 7782479

The Kaira Kunda Arts Promotion Centre, Brikama
The aim of this project is to create an Arts Centre that can act as a cultural bridge between Britain and West Africa. The main focus will be a residential school of music and other arts, which will encourage the exchange of cultural ideas and operate along simple lines.

During the main season (November to May) the centre would offer one to three weeklong residential courses in music, arts and crafts to visitors from Britain. These courses will be profit making and may expand to cover areas such as wildlife and the environment, personal growth and alternative technology
They will subsidize other courses available during the ‘off season’ (June to October) for Gambians, who will pay only nominal fees and have to attend an interview to obtain a place.
A musician’s forum would also be offered, allowing both British and Gambian musicians to stay at the centre to exchange ideas and skills.
The centre would provide a theatre and concert venue for both local and visiting musicians and performers, which will expand the value of the centre for the local community. This will be a self-supporting enterprise, as would the musician’s forum.
An arts, craft and gallery and museum will be established to offer space for exhibitions, as well as display and sales areas for local crafts people on a profit making basis. It is hoped that the centre will also act as a resource for local schools.
As catering facilities will be needed for the residential students, these will be developed to provide a small whole-food restaurant, which will also be open to non-residents. Supplies for the restaurant will be grown in planned fruit and vegetable gardens, using principles of organic growing and permaculture.
In contrast with the high impact tourism stretching along the coast, The Kaira Kunda Arts Promotion Centre will operate in a low key manner, offering simpleaccommodation and using environmentally friendly systems such as solar power, composting toilets and so on. By demonstrating these practical examples of environmental awareness it is hoped to have a positive influence locally by introducing and facilitating the uptake of such ideas. These are much needed by a country, which, like many is suffering from environmental degradation, especially from deforestation.

The local community is very supportive and enthusiastic about the project. The site is far enough out of town to avoid disturbing residents, but close enough to be easily accessible to them for any events held at Kaira Kunda Arts Promotion Centre. The centre is intended to benefit locals as well as visitors, and it will avoid the exploitation and patronizing attitude that occurs in some parts of the country. Visitors will be able to enjoy a realistic experience of African life and culture. Offering five music holidays in Brikama using a family home for the accommodation has already assessed demand. These attracted a lot of interest and were soon booked up.
We have the land and have started construction, with one small house finished so far.


Kerr Batch Ethnographic Museum
Kerr Batch is home to the famous stone circles. The area also houses a small museum whose collection consists of objects relating to the ceremonial, economic and occupational activities of the people of the area.

Getting there:
To get to Kerr Batch visitors are advised to get to Nyangabantang on the Farafenni-Laminkoto Road and then branch off the main road to Kerr Batch which is nine kilometers away. Please follow the sign posts (Kerr Batch Stone Circles) to guide you to the site.

Lemonfish Art Gallery
Beautifully situated in the small rural fishing village of Kartong, the Lemonfish Art Gallery works and promotes local artists to generate income. Paintings and works are displayed and for sale.
Contact: Nina Muller, Phone: (00220) 99 22 884, Email:

Senegambia Beach Hotel
Upstairs in the hotel is a new art gallery with paintings and work from various local artists.
Location: Kololi, Senegambia Hotel

Tanje Village Museum
Tanje Village Museum is a unique place where the natural history and traditional culture of The Gambia is presented in an interesting and accessible way to tourists, Gambians, local inhabitants and school groups.
Nowhere else you can find out so much about The Gambia, its birds, insects, fish, plants and trees, and different ethnic groups and their culture.
Tanje Village Museum is also dedicated to a research into the uses of plants in medicine, textile dyes and in traditional beliefs.

In addition, it promotes traditional craftsmanship. Artisans have their workshops in the grounds. They demonstrate their craft and sell high quality products to visitors.
The exhibitions and nature trail are designed for recreation and education. They complement the Government's Schools Environmental Education Curriculum.
On demand, Tanje Village Museum provides tailor-made educational programs for schools - as well as tourist groups.

Open: Everyday from 9.00 AM - 17.00 PM
Admission: Children under 12: 5 dalasi, Adults: 25 dalasi
Hostel: 125 dalasi per person, including breakfast
Reservation: 2 days in advance for extensive meals and 1 week for educational groups.
Information: Tanje Village Museum, A. Bayo – director, PO Box 172, Banjul, The Gambia, Telephone: (+220) 37 10 07 or E-mail:

Wassu Mueseum
This site was proclaimed a National Monument in 1995. The protected area contains 11 circles. The site has been subjected to excavation on a number of occasions, most recently by the Anglo-Gambian Stone Circles Expedition of 1964-65. This expedition determined that the sites are predominantly burial sites with single burials, very poor quality grave goods, including iron weapons, arrow and spearheads, knives, pottery vessels and bronze ornaments. The site was dated to 750-1000 AD. There is a quarry site less than 200m to the west of the site.