Stellar holdings, contemporary concerns, and a history of the jaundiced colonial mind-set make for a fascinating mix at the Royal Museum of Central Africa. Part of King Leopold II's legacy to Belgium, it holds an incredible collection of 250,000 objects, including masks, sculpture, paintings, and zoological specimens. There's also a wealth of memorabilia from the central African explorations commissioned by Leopold, most notably by Henry Morton Stanley (of "Doctor Livingston, I presume?" fame), whose archive is kept here. Some sections of the museum, such as the entrance hall, are virtually time capsules from the early 20th century, while others have been updated. The attached research center has a "Living Science" exhibition open to the public, focusing on its studies of African flora and fauna. While many parts of the museum's collection are invaluable from a scholarly point of view, they came at an incalculable cost, rooted in Leopold's brutal colonial rule. The museum has been undergoing
a period of soul-searching, and is in the process of updating its exhibitions to more accurately reflect the horrific nature of Belgium's time in the Congo. There's descriptive information available in English throughout. Save some time for a walk through the museum's beautifully landscaped park. To get here from place Montgomery, take tram 44 to Tervuren.