Cultural Anthropology and History

Online collections

We are working on a new platform to present the Cultural Anthropology and History collections online.

In the meantime you can still consult the existing collections database.



Overview of the collections

Ethnographic objects

The collection contains some 120,000 objects.

The figurative sculptures (masks, statues, etc.) are the most well-known, but it also contains large series of weapons, cups, combs and various other artefacts.

The vast majority of the objects come from Central Africa, in particular the DR Congo

The museum also manages collections from other regions:

  • 18,000 objects from West Africa
  • 10,000 objects from East and Southern Africa
  • 8,000 objects from the Americas
  • 5,000 objects from Oceania

> Discover our online collections

> Origin of the collections

> Stolen/missing objects

Chief Scientist:
Julien Volper
02 769 53 51



Musical instruments

With 8,000 musical instruments, the museum manages the world's largest collection of musical instruments from Central Africa.

The majority of the objects originate from the DR Congo. 

> Consult our musical instruments online

Chief Scientist:
Rémy Jadinon
+32 2 769 56 10




A third of the collections are being studied or in transit and do not belong to the museum.

The official collections primarily come from the DR Congo.

Some of the study collections also come from the DR Congo while the rest come from Cameroon, Gabon, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea.

The collection of human skeletal material was transferred to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels in 1964.

The slide library contains documentation on archaeological digs. The oldest slides were taken at the Gwhiso (Zambia) site and date back to 1964.

The archaeological archives date back to 1897 and contain research material (digs, dating work) along with personal correspondence and personnel records.

> Online archaeology collections

Chief Scientist:
Els Cornelissen
+32 2 769 54 76




The photograph collection holds contains 500,000 images.

It is a fundamental source of documentation on the DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi in the colonial era from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 1960s.

It is divided into several categories: 

  • photographs produced by the museum 
  • photographs from private individuals and companies 
  • official propaganda photographs (CID-Inforcongo)  

Among its collections are 600 photos of political figures from the 1959-1969 period, originating from the Jules Gérard-Libois collection. 

Chief Scientist:
Anne Cornet 
+32 2 769 57 29

Anne Welschen 
+32 2 769 52 65


Maps and plans

Maps from the 15th to the 20th century

The collection holds approximately 3,500 maps of Africa from the 15th to the 20th century

It includes 600 ancient maps, an exceptional record of the history of European-African relations over six centuries.

The administrative and thematic maps of the colonial period (19th-20th centuries) are primarily of the DR Congo and its neighbours.

Nancy Vanderlinden
+32 2 769 52 66


Maps from 1948 to the present day

This collection comprises 133 maps.

These are:

  • ethnographic maps
  • road maps
  • geological maps
  • population density maps
  • etc.

The maps are of the DR Congo’s provinces, regions and cities (Kisangani, Kinshasa, Lubumbashi) from 1948 to the present day. 

Lore Van De Broeck
+32 2 769 58 45


Specific historical objects and collections

These are primarily objects connected with the European presence in Central Africa, for example:

  • crucifixes reflecting the Christianisation of the DR Congo and Angola between the 15th and 18th centuries, and the war between the Congo Free State and the Afro-Arabs from the east coast
  • uniforms
  • colonial materials
  • utilitarian objects in ivory
  • a small collection of stamps and postal history
  • several hundred rare or unique pieces that reveal, in particular, the postal and illustrative policy of the Belgian Congo, with preparatory images, die proofs and test sheets. 

Chief Scientist:
Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi
+32 2 769 52 79

Nancy Vanderlinden
+32 2 769 52 66



The museum has a subscription with the main newspapers published in Kinshasa:

  • Le Soft International
  • Le Phare
  • La Référence Plus
  • Le Potentiel
  • La Tempête des tropiques
  • L’Observateur.

It also has more than 700 Congolese newspapers from the 1950s to the present day, including Le Palmarès, Elima and Salongo, as well as press agency reports (AZap, ACP, APA).

In addition, it has a large collection of periodicals, including Congolese periodicals such as:

  • Congo-Afrique (Kinshasa)
  • Likundoli (Lubumbashi)
  • the Annals of various Congolese university faculties
  • Cahiers économiques et sociaux (Kinshasa)
  • Etudes congolaises (Kinshasa)
  • Problèmes sociaux zaïrois (Lubumbashi)
  • L’Africain (Charleroi)
  • etc.

Lore Van De Broeck
+32 2 769 58 45


Audiovisual sources

The audiovisual collection contains some 650 film archives in 35, 16 and 8 mm format.

The majority come from the former Office de l’Information et des Relations Publiques pour le Congo Belge et le Ruanda-Urundi (Inforcongo), the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga (UMHK) and private individuals.

They deal with various aspects of the Belgian Congo and the colonial world, and their propaganda, between 1940 and 1960.

The collection also contains documentaries and reports in various media formats, along with sound recordings broadcast on Belgian and Congolese radio between 1952 and 1960.

There is also a large collection of interviews on DVD of Belgian and Congolese people who experienced the colonial period. These interviews were conducted in French by the non-profit organisation Mémoires du Congo and in Dutch by the non-profit organisation Afrika Getuigenissen, as well as by the RMCA for a number of exhibition projects.

Sophie de Ville
+32 2 769 57 31