Democratic Republic of Congo to inaugurate national museum

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Visitors are seen in one of the exhibition rooms of the brand new National museum of the Democratic Republic of Congo in KinshasImage source, Arsene Mpiana Monke via AFP
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Officials say they have thousands of items in their collections

The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo will officially inaugurate a new national museum in Kinshasa on Saturday.

The new facility, funded by the South Korean International Cooperation Agency, took three years to build and was completed in June.

Hundreds of items portraying life and culture are on display.

Officials have expressed their hope of expanding the collection with items taken abroad during the colonial era.

A particular focus of restitution is items in the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, which re-opened last year.

Joseph Kabila, the former leader of DR Congo, previously said they would seek restitution of items from the Belgian facility - though no official request has yet been made.

The country was officially annexed by Belgium in 1908 and gained its independence in 1960.

The issue of Africa's "looted treasures" from the colonial era are a long-contested topic. In 2018, a landmark French report called for thousands of artefacts to be returned to the continent.

Image source, AFP
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The facility is reported to have cost $22m to build
Image source, Arsene Mpiana Monke via AFP
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The museum showcases items along exhibit themes

In the past, western countries have been reluctant to repatriate items from their museums, raising concerns over lack of adequate protective infrastructure and political instability.

The new building replaces older facilities in DR Congo, where concerns have been raised about the conditions items are kept.

The national museum has two levels housing a variety of items on show, including masks and statuettes made by some of the country's hundreds of different tribes.

Aimé Mpane, a local art teacher, told the BBC that she hoped the new museum and its art collection would become a source of inspiration for contemporary artists across the country.