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Olfert Dapper was a humanist who, despite never leaving his native country, wrote an encyclopaedic Description of Africa, first published in 1668. He published this historical description of Africa after spending three years researching, perusing a huge number of history and geography books, as well as numerous travellers' accounts. He produced an interesting synthesis of the documents he had consulted and his Description of Africa remains a key text for Africanists.
In May 1986, a Foundation, dedicated to the work of Dapper, opened a museum in Paris with the purpose of raising the profile of sub-Saharan Africa's artistic heritage and contribute to its conservation, by staging exhibitions and awarding research bursaries.
Between 1986 and 1998, the Musée Dapper located avenue Victor Hugo held thirty themed exhibitions featured works selected from the Foundation's own holdings. The Foundation moved to another new location where two years of careful reflection and preparation led to the opening of new premises in Paris. There, a modern layout offers a unique venue for showcasing the creative arts of Africa as well as of the Caribbean, African-American and mixed-race communities of Europe, Latin America and the Indian Ocean.
New addition includes live arts occupying a place alongside the plastic arts, both traditional and contemporary.