Built in the early 1990s, the National Museum of Rwanda is a good source of information on the cultural history of the country and the region and it is over and over again referred to as the best museum in East Africa. During the 1994 genocide, The National Museum located in Butare remained safe and sound. It was donated in 1990s by the Belgium government with some ethnic collection, the design and concept all realised in co-operation with the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium.
Butare lies 135 km from Kigali and a visit can be organised as a day pleasure trip out of Kigali. A visit Butare is also possible on the way to Nyungwe National Park. Nyabisindu (Nyanza) is situated 45 km from Butare and 90 km from Kigali.
The diverse sections of the museum demonstrate a wide-ranging assemblage of indistinguishable pictures, traditional artefacts and objects, tools and different craft products. Ethnographic objects are clustered together according to the theme giving quality information on the daily life. Traditional ceramics and basketry are still manufactured and belong to the finest handicrafts of the region.
The Museum is the fine and reflects well the time spirit at the end of 19th Century when the East-African Kingdoms came in contact with the first Europeans. The wealthy insights about Rwanda’s traditional life and culture and the successive historical developments contribute to a better understanding of African history and should be compelled for everybody who’s interested in Africa.
Butare (now: HUYE ) was the largest and most significant city in Rwanda prior to 1965, when it lost out to the more centrally located Kigali, 135 km to its north, as the capital of independent Rwanda. Today, Butare is hub of several academic institutions, including the country’s largest Butare University. Butare is still regarded to be the intellectual and cultural icon of Rwanda. It is also an appealingly compact and serene town of shaded avenues emanating from a main street lined with comfortable small hotels and blowy terrace restaurants.
Thel Museum is the most prominent tourist attraction in Butare and houses conceivably the finest ethnographic collected works in East Africa. Absorbing displays of traditional artefacts light up by eye-catching assortment of turn-of-the-century monochrome photographs, providing insight not only into pre-colonial lifestyles, but also into the successive development of Rwanda as a contemporary African state.
Butare’s cultural significance is further underlined by a visit to nearby Nyabisindu, formerly known as Nyanza, the traditional seat of Rwanda’s feudal kingdom. The impressive Royal Palace at Nyanza, a colossal domed construction made completely with traditional materials, has been thoroughly restored to its 19th century state and is now safeguarded as a museum.