The Sierra Leone National Museum is the national museum of Sierra Leone. The museum is located at the junction of Siaka Stevens Street and Pademba Road in central Freetown, the capital of the country. The museum’s origin dates back to before Sierra Leone’s independence.
The origins of the Sierra Leone National Museum can be traced to the passing of a 1946 ordinance ‘to provide for the preservation of Ancient, Historical, and Natural Monuments, Relics, and other objects of Archaeological, Ethnographical, Historical or other Scientific Interest’. Although the Monuments and Relics Commission, which was set up under this ordinance, was not explicitly charged with establishing a museum, this was identified as one of the priorities of the organization in its first annual report. Under the chairmanship of Dr. M. C. F. Easmon, a retired Krio physician and amateur historian, a collection of artifacts were gradually assembled and a temporary display set up in the library of the British Council. This collection was envisaged as the nucleus of a future museum.
Sierra Leone’s National Museum is located at the center of Freetown under the branches of the city’s famous Cotton Tree. It is the hub of many cultural activities in Freetown and holds an important collection of Sierra Leonean artifacts and artworks.
The museum was opened in 1957 as the museum of the Sierra Leone Society, a ‘learned society’ whose members included colonial officials and prominent members of Freetown’s Krio community. With the demise of the Sierra Leone Society in the mid-1960s, the museum came under the control of Sierra Leone’s Monuments and Relics Commission and Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and thus became the Sierra Leone National Museum.
The museum has rarely benefitted from significant financial resources and has survived largely due to the commitment of its dedicated staff. It still occupies what was originally intended to be temporary accommodation in the old Cotton Tree railway station at the junction of Siaka Stevens Street and Pademba Road. The German Embassy funded an extension to the museum, which was opened in 1987 to mark the bicentenary of the founding of Freetown.