Ethnographic Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies
The Institute of Ethiopian studies was established in 1963 with three major components: a research and publication unit, a library and a museum. The aim of the institute is to collect, documents, analyze and disseminate knowledge about languages, cultures and history of Ethiopia. As Ethiopia is a cradle of mankind, a cross road of cultures and civilizations, it is known as" a museum of nationalities." This museum, therefore, is shouldering a great responsibility of capturing the heritage of the past and the present for posterity. The main focus of the museum is traditional art and material culture of nationalities.
The IES Museum brings the many diverse ethnic groups of Ethiopia under one roof. The layout follows the story of life from birth to death, and beyond, and how the different stages of life are viewed and experienced by different ethnic groups in Ethiopia.
Fortunately the museum is found in the old palace, Genente Leul, of the late Emperor Haile Selassie. The building welcomes all visitors with dignity and grace. The museum is accommodated on the first and second floors; comprising the bedroom of the late Emperor and ethnographic section on the first floor and the art gallery on the second floor.
The bedroom reminds us that the building was once a palace in the formative period of modern Ethiopia. It is the first modern palace imitating European style. We see here the bed, which Haile Selassie used for more than ten years and some personal gifts to the late Emperor.
The reception hall now hosts ethnographic items of more than eighty language groups. It is divided into two parts. The first part introduces the general socio-economic conditions of the country. It displays production tools and some techniques of craftsmen.
The second part provides a quick visit through Ethiopia. Here, some assorted items from each administrative region are represented. Although the space is not large enough to show the beauty and diversity of the material culture of the country, it creates a strong urge to know more about the country.
The second floor is a gallery where the’ high art’ of the country is displayed. The exhibit concentrates on the history of sacred and a few examples of the secular art of Ethiopia. The time depth of some items could go as far back as the fourteenth century.