During the night of 28 to 29 August, a fire broke out in the crafts centre of the historical Museum of Abomey, located within the Royal Palaces of Abomey’s court, destroying numerous stands of craftsmen.
The fire was caused by a short circuit around 1:30 am in the crafts centre of the historical Museum of Abomey. It destroyed thirteen of the twenty-eight stands intended for the exhibition and sale of crafts, whereas the museum space as well as the museum’s collections were fortunately not affected. Located in the historical Museum’s court, this centre represents an important part of the itineraries of visitors to the World Heritage site, and it is a workplace for numerous craftsmen.
The Director of the World Heritage Centre, Dr Mechtild Rössler, expressed her deep sympathy for the affected craftsmen, for whom this crafts centre constitutes their main economic resource. Through its Regional Office for West Africa in Abuja (Nigeria), UNESCO will send a mission to Abomey within the coming days for an on-site evaluation of the situation and urgent measures to be taken.
This fire is unfortunately not the first one that has affected this site in recent years, as others occurred in 2012 and in January 2015.
The Museum, created in 1943, is part of the ten Royal Palaces of Abomey inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1985. They represent the major material testimony to the Kingdom of Dahomey which developed from the mid-17th century, and thus constitute a wealth for both, Benin and its population, and for Humanity.
Before and after a fire detroyed numerous stands of craftsmen.