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New Sankofa Children’s Center In Baltimore Shares Traditions Of Africa’s 54 Nations

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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As of February 1, young visitors and locals to the Baltimore area have a new landmark to celebrate their African heritage and history. Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures recently opened its doors with the aim to “educate, inspire and connect children from all walks of life to the vast physical and cultural diversity of the African continent” and to “provide much-needed knowledge of Africa, through play and other interactive activities, to school children in Baltimore and beyond,” says the website.

According to baltimoresun.com, the museum experience begins in the lobby, where children don traditional African clothing and have their photographs taken while sitting in a ceremonial chair modeled after the elaborately carved wooden seat used by Cameroon’s royal family. The now-transformed visitors enter the museum gallery through an arched doorway on which is written the words, “This is your door of returning.”

Video via sankofakids.org

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The welcome is a correction to the notorious building on Senegal’s Goree Island from which captives boarding slave ships bound for the Americas are thought to have caught their last glimpse of Africa.

“We’re letting our visitors know that once they step past this threshold, they’re going back to the place they came from,” museum director Deborah Mason said to the Baltimore Sun.

The main gallery of the museum is divided into five geographic areas: north, south, east, west and central Africa. In each area, visitors have the opportunity to view ancient artifacts, explore recreated traditional huts, and experience educational play such as puzzles of the continent, instruments, and more.

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If you are planning a trip, the museum’s usual public hours are Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission costs $10 for adults aged 12 and over and $7.50 for children.

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