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Dinosaurs, living animals and crafts: Inside Niger’s National Museum

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The National Museum of Niger is a 24-hectare gem and boasts a multitude of displays

From dinosaurs to living animals in its zoo and there are also nuclear energy, craftwork and history exhibitions.

“We are dealing with a public that has a thirst for knowledge. A public that hasn’t been to school and that comes here to discover,” said National Museum director Haladou Mamane.

“It is with pride that I say that people make the museum a mirror. Where we come to reflect ourselves, to know where we are, where we come from and where we are going. I think this is of paramount importance.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the museum received over 100,000 visitors per year, but there are far fewer now to enjoy the various delights on offer.

As well as seeing the eclectic exhibitions, visitors can also experience the craftwork area

A shop window for sculptors, painters, potters and leatherworkers, who can sell what they produce.

It brings Artisans from all over Niger and is a source of pride for the museum.

A treasure in the world’s poorest country, the museum charges around 10 US cents per entry, so even the poorest can experience some culture.

Such as the so-called Talibe children, whose parents hand them to a type of Islamic school, where they are supposed to learn the Koran.

But they typically spend their days begging in the streets

“I left the Yantala district to come to the museum, I paid 50 francs. I wanted to see the animals, lions, monkeys, crocodiles and sheep,” said Ismaël Mariama, a talibé child.

The museum is planning on a refurbishment and an expansion next year with the help of international donations, which it says will improve the living conditions of the 111 animals.

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