Manhyia Palace Museum to Reopen in May with Expanded Facilities and Historic Treasures

The Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi is set to reopen its doors on May 1st, 2024, as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene (Asante King). Hosted by the Asantehene, the museum will unveil refurbished facilities and showcase historic Ashanti heirlooms to the public in its new Homecoming exhibition.

This momentous occasion signifies a significant milestone in the cultural heritage of the Ashanti Kingdom. In a landmark agreement, British institutions have sent 32 royal treasures plundered from the Asante Kingdom 150 years ago. These treasures, featuring 15 items from the British Museum and 17 from the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), are now on display at the Manhyia Palace Museum on a three-year loan. Additionally, the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, repatriated seven artifacts in February 2024. The Homecoming exhibition commemorates these initiatives under the leadership of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Looted by British military forces during the 19th-century Anglo-Ashanti Wars, Homecoming exhibits these relics in their homeland for the first time in 150 years. Among the notable artifacts are the sword of state known as Mpomponsuo and the gold badges of officials authorized to purify the king’s soul. The collection also includes a gold lute-harp presented by Asantehene Osei Bonsu to British diplomat Thomas Edward Bowdich during an 1817 trade treaty. Each artifact offers visitors a rare glimpse into the splendor of Ashanti history and culture.

Ivor Agyeman-Duah, the Director of the Manhyia Palace Museum and chief negotiator for the Asantehene, highlighted the significance of these agreements. He emphasized the importance of international movements to repatriate cultural artifacts to their rightful origins and described Homecoming as a renewal of connections between Britain, the United States, and the Ashanti Kingdom.

The Fowler Museum personally returned the treasures to the Asantehene on February 8th, including a royal stool ornament from Asantehene Kofi Karikari’s private collection.

The museum, originally opened by Otumfuo Opoku Ware II during his Silver Jubilee in 1995, was the first Manhyia Palace, built by the British for Asantehene Nana Prempeh I in 1925 to replace the royal palace destroyed during the Yaa Asantewaa War in 1900.

Visitors can expect expanded spaces, photographic and regalia displays, lifelike mannequins of 20th and 21st-century Asantehenes and Asantehemaas (queen mothers), and captivating narratives chronicling the legacy of the Ashanti kingdom, including its history with the British Empire.

 

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