If someone told me years ago that today I would find myself very deep into arts – to the point that I can compare art galleries in Kigali – I would have probably laughed and told them that art is plain madness. But isn’t the variety what makes it interesting?
When you look at art in Rwanda, just like any other country, and try to analyze its uprisings, you find remarkable growth. From ancient forms of expression to modern art, there can never be a shortage of masterpieces to admire for an enthusiast in the subject.
There are many incredible art galleries around Kigali, and Rwanda as a whole, but listed below are some of my personal favorites that came in highly recommended by other people or actually caught my eye on their own.
INEMA Arts Center
Inema has managed to grab the attention of most people traveling to or living in Kigali through a chain of various activities that take place there (this was before the pandemic and lockdown periods). These include weekly live music evenings on Thursdays, yoga on Wednesdays, and art classes by request.
“Inema Arts Center started the contemporary art movement in Rwanda,” says Nkuranga, one of the two founding brothers. “Today, it attracts collectors from all over the world who travel specifically to buy art.”
With everything that makes Inema a must-see, I cannot forget to mention my personal favorite, the customized Volkswagen Beetle that is in the yard.
|Monday||07:00 AM-06:30 PM|
|Tuesday||07:00 AM-06:30 PM|
|Wednesday||07:00 AM-06:30 PM|
|Thursday||07:00 AM-11:30 PM|
|Friday||07:00 AM-06:30 PM|
|Saturday||07:00 AM-06:30 PM|
|Sunday||07:00 AM-06:30 PM|
AZIZI LIFE Studio
Azizi Life Studio specialises in traditional crafts like Imigongo, woven baskets, jewelry, wood carving, and pottery; Azizi not only provides these as finished products for different purposes, but they also provide courses on how to make them on your own. Think that’s cool?
What’s even cooler is the weekend lineups of classes:
- Flavorful Fridays designed to be delicious, fun, and social
- Chocolate Saturdays, where they partner with Chocolats Charactere to offer Belgian chocolate to anyone who takes craft classes
- Sunday afternoon classes with lunch included
|Monday||09:00 AM-07:00 PM|
|Tuesday||09:00 AM-07:00 PM|
|Wednesday||09:00 AM-07:00 PM|
|Thursday||09:00 AM-07:00 PM|
|Friday||09:00 AM-07:00 PM|
|Saturday||09:00 AM-07:00 PM|
|Sunday||01:00 AM-06:00 PM|
NIYO Arts Gallery and Cultural Center
NIYO Arts Gallery was founded by orphan Pacifique Niyonsenga to showcase pieces by its house artists (some of whom are children) and support children living in poverty with their education and basic needs.
The artists of this gallery currently support 125 children whose families live in poor conditions with the help of art sales, donations, and exhibits. The children benefiting from this support give presentations to patrons and vacationers visiting the gallery, playing drums and performing dances, a charming adventure if you ask me.
|Monday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
|Tuesday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
|Wednesday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
|Thursday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
|Friday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
|Saturday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
|Sunday||08:00 AM-08:00 PM|
IVUKA Arts is one of the few galleries that have managed to put Rwandan art on the map of the world, with exhibitions in the UK, the USA, Japan, and other countries. It features both local and international artwork and exhibitions which is one major factor linking Rwanda to the rest of the world, all for the sole aim to use art to change lives.
Another highlight about IVUKA Arts that might steal your heart is the children’s dance group created by the house artists to teach young kids to play music, dance, and paint.
Choose Kigali is a little bit different from all the other art galleries listed. It’s not just any art centre – it’s a gallery infused in a restaurant. Now talk about creativity!
This fine establishment was thought of and realized by none other than Emmanuel Nkuranga, Inema Arts Centre’s founder, together with US master Chef Billy McCormick.
Portraying different pieces from his private collections and his very own artwork, Emmanuel once again gave us fine dining and art lovers a two-in-one that I personally cannot say no to.
On top of all that, Choose Kigali prepares adventurous trips around the country, to its guests, allowing you to go beyond gorillas to experience the hidden best of Rwanda and discover the incredible treasures the country has to offer.
|Monday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Tuesday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Wednesday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Thursday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Friday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Saturday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Sunday||08:00 AM-05:00 PM|
Kigali Center for Photography
The Kigali Center for Photography portrays photography in all its forms. From local to international photographers, at this center, it is not only pictures shown there. It is more about exploring everything within and beyond the medium. It provides a wide range of photographic presentations and storytelling from different photographers, which then widens the perspective window.
With hopes that more like it will be opened, the Kigali Center for Photography is the first and only one of its kind at the moment, which makes it much more exciting as an adventure.
|Monday||10:30 AM-05:30 PM|
|Tuesday||10:30 AM-05:30 PM|
|Wednesday||10:30 AM-05:30 PM|
|Thursday||10:30 AM-05:30 PM|
|Friday||10:30 AM-05:30 PM|
|Saturday||11:00 AM-05:00 PM|
|Sunday||11:00 AM-05:00 PM|
Briefly, you don’t have to wait to go to one of the best art galleries in Kigali to experience fantastic art in the city. Check out various spray-painted walls in the streets of Kiyovu or an artistically designed skating rink in Kacyiru. The young artists of this city are so talented and full of expression that they possess massive potential for a worldwide market. They also give the country a hand in making Kigali even more beautiful.