Nkyimnkyim Museum: The Ghanaian Museum recounting stories about African Heritage with sculptures 

nkyimnkyim museum

Inspired by African Heritage Stories, Nkyimkyim museum is an outdoor museum founded and curated by Ghanaian artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo. 

The word ‘Nkyinkyim’ is both an adinkra symbol that translates in English to “twisted” and a proverb that says, “life’s journey is twisted.”. It directly relates to the travels made by our ancestors and also their journeys from where they migrated. It also refers to the physical shape of the art installation which is going to be in twists and turns. The museum features a compelling display of 1,500 concrete life-size heads (The aim is to eventually create 11,111 heads—a goal intended to represent strength in numbers in the current open-air site) and 3,000 terracotta miniature sculpted heads, that represent captive Africans who were abducted, sold and forcibly trafficked during the transatlantic slave trade, and enslaved in the Americas. 

The sculptor Kwame Akoto-Bamfo captures captives’ shock, horror, anger, distress, and fear—emotions communicated through their facial expressions in a large-scale installation that is disturbingly evocative and profoundly haunting. Inspired by ‘nsodie’, an Akan funerary tradition, Akoto-Bamfo’s work draws upon the Akan belief in commemoration and remembrance after death, “to honor the young, old, men and women, who originated from various ethnic groups, and who died in the Atlantic Ocean during the Middle Passage.”The heads are permanently exhibited at his museum but have also been displayed at Cape Coast Castle, one of the slave trading fortifications in Ghana and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, USA

Nkyinkyim is located in Nuhalenya Ada, a town outside Accra. The site of the installation is poignant, for Nuhalenya Ada was a stopping-point on the slave trade route in the 16th and 17th centuries, first for the Dutch and then for British traders.

The museum receives support from the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, which gives artists access to the slave castles and monuments related to Ghana’s history to inform future research.

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