Inside Dakar's Musée Dynamique : reflections on culture and the state in postcolonial Senegal

Murphy, David and Vincent, Cédric (2019) Inside Dakar's Musée Dynamique : reflections on culture and the state in postcolonial Senegal. World Art, 9 (1). pp. 81-97. ISSN 2150-0894

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    Abstract

    In November 2016, a conference was held in Dakar to mark the 50th anniversary of the First World Festival of Negro Arts, which had been held in the city from 1 to 24 April 1966. The conference closed with the public reading of a declaration that the organizers would later publish in the Senegalese daily newspaper, Le Soleil. One of its main demands was the restitution of the former Musée Dynamique to the Ministry for Culture. This was unsurprising, as the destiny of the museum had been a bone of contention between the government and key figures in the Senegalese cultural scene ever since the building was abruptly closed down in December 1988 and handed over to the judiciary as the new home for Senegal’s Supreme Court. The authors of this essay embarked on a research trip to Dakar in November 2016 to attend the 50th anniversary conference to photograph the Musée Dynamique as it is today: the intention was, as far as possible, to create a visual project centred on a rephotographing of the museum, contrasting the utopian vision of the festival organizers with its current status. The framework for our project changed somewhat, however, following President Macky Sall’s announcement that the building would soon be returned to the arts community. The aim of this visual essay is now thus primarily to examine more closely the nature, purpose and evolution of the museum building. What exactly is the nature of the building about to be returned to the arts community?