National Museum of Mali
The National Museum of Mali, Bamako: cultural heritage, Mali Re-opening in 1981 in a building inspired by local Bambara architectural forms, the National Museum of Mali has become a vibrant and outstanding institution. It is at the forefront of efforts to prevent the looting and illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts both in Mali and in Africa as a whole. Initiated by former president Alpha Oumar Konaré, supported by State legislation and actively implemented by museum director Samuel Sidibé, the museum is involved in activities to raise awareness and encourage people to protect their heritage. As a result of such efforts, the pillage of archaeological sites, manuscripts and ethnographic objects has been significantly reduced, and in several instances local communities have established their own small museums. The National Museum of Mali has a superb collection of over 6,000 objects and plays an important role in preserving and interpreting the country’s aesthetic heritage. It has important collections of musical heritage, ceramics and textiles, and the museum has facilitated the exchange of professionals for restoration of ancient textiles and architectural sites. The museum is also involved in promoting the production of contemporary plastic arts, organising periodic exhibits of artists' work from both Mali and abroad, including exhibitions such as ‘Time and Space: Contemporary cultures of West Africa: shifts and continuity’. To support contemporary artistic expression, the museum has instituted the Pan-African visual arts competition with the UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts for outstanding creative work. The Award honours the work of the National Museum of Mali and emphasises the importance of preventing cultural looting and trafficking.