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The Livingstone Museum


Livingstone Museum, Livingstone, Zambia
Livingstone Museum. Livingstone, Zambia

Livingstone Museum. Livingstone, Zambia

© Anouk Zijlma
The Livingstone Museum is Zambia's oldest and largest museum. Established in 1934 and last renovated in 2003, the museum offers visitors a welcome respite from action-oriented activities in the area. The museum is located in the heart of Livingstone town, just a few miles away from the magnificent Victoria Falls. I spent several enjoyable hours browsing around the various galleries of the museum on a recent visit.

Of course the main attraction for many visitors is to learn more about the Victorian explorer Dr. David Livingstone (more below). But I was very pleasantly surprised with the excellent cultural exhibit, showcasing Zambia's many different tribes. The anthropologist in me was spellbound by the interesting exhibits that explained the different ways birth, circumcision, marriage and death are traditionally celebrated by different ethnic groups in the country.

The history and politics of Zambia was also laid out in a very comprehensive and interesting fashion, I imagine even school children would be rapt by it all. And indeed there were several uniformed school girls reading all the information out loud and taking it all in, which was nice to see.

The David Livingstone Exhibit
David Livingstone (1813-1873), the renowned Scottish explorer, doctor, slave-trade abolitionist, and missionary is quite revered and respected in this part of the world. His heart was buried in Zambia where he died. This respect is certainly reflected in the care taken with the design and information that you'll find in several of the museum rooms. I spent more than hour reading page after page of his original diary, neatly kept behind special glass panels that you can slide in and out of a custom book shelf. It offered a delightful insight into some of the important as well as petty issues that David Livingstone dealt with on a day to day basis. There are complaints about supplies mixed in with accounts of burying fellow travelers. There's no doubt that Livingstone endured much to try and end slavery in this part of the world.

There are also some very interesting personal artifacts on display, like his mirror, guns, and large coat (unbelievable to think he wore that in the heat I was experiencing just that day). The exhibits about Sussi and Chuma his faithful servants, and various other important people that helped Livingstone manage his explorations were also excellent. I really felt I learned a lot without getting bored or too bogged down with facts.

Museum Facilities
Bathrooms are available. A gift shop selling some nice curios at reasonable prices can be found in the courtyard. They also sell cold drinks, which you'll enjoy in the heat of the day since the museum is cool, but not air conditioned.

Entrance Fees and Hours
Opening times: 8h30 to 16h30 every day except Christmas and New Year's day. Adults pay $5 or K24,000. Students and children pay $2. There is an extra fee to take photos/video and you are not allowed to take photos of the exhibits without permission. You can hire a guide to take your round the museum for a small fee. I browsed through the exhibits alone, they are well signed, but a guide always makes a visit more interesting.

Getting to the Livingstone Museum
The museum is in the center of Livingstone, (which is not a big town) right on the Mosi-oa-Tunya Road, next to the Tourist Office. So any taxi driver from the lodges close to the Victoria Falls, or on the banks of the Zambezi will know where it is. Courtesy shuttle buses to and from the lodges will also drop you off close by. Jollyboys Backpackers is located right behind the museum, about a minute walk. Every "Historical tour" or "Cultural Tour" of Livingstone will include the museum.

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