We were excited to learn that Ghana’s National Museum was located just minutes away from our house. But our actual visit turned out to be a disappointment. The museum was under renovation, and apparently has been for years. The tour guides said that it would be re-opening in grand fashion later this year, perhaps even July. But that’s a ridiculously optimistic prediction at best, and most likely a lie. This place looks closed for good.
“Hold up a sec,” I hear you saying. “Tour guide? Why would a museum that’s currently closed need a tour guide?” You’re smart! Smarter than we were, anyway, because we agreed to let some dude take us on a tour of this empty, shuttered museum.
“And here’s an empty glass case. And over here, we have another empty case.” Ah, and what will go inside these displays when the museum triumphantly re-opens in just a few months? “Oh, something related to Ghana’s history. And here’s an empty hall, and over here we have…”
The highlight of the tour came at the only thing even partially resembling an exhibit: poorly photocopied prints of the museum’s construction and Accra’s landmarks taped onto whiteboards. Each one was accompanied by a small label with information, and our guide either thought we couldn’t read English, or that our experience would be enhanced by listening to him painstakingly recite every word.
It was torturous, and once we were back outside, we paid the fee and insisted that we wouldn’t be needing his services in the sculpture garden. But no sooner had we stepped inside this area, than a new tour guide attached himself to us. We explained that we’d already paid his colleague, and his response was, “Well, now I’ll talk about these statues, and you’ll also pay me.” We cast one glance over the paltry sculptures, and decided to pass.
Accra offers a lot in terms of fascinating culture, but none of it is found here. It’s a shame, because a country with such a rich history deserves an excellent museum which introduces and celebrates it. Maybe someday.