In the foyer, was an exhibit about the history of the palace, and how Selassie came to power. The hallways on the first floor led to large meeting rooms and offices, and were decorated with beautiful Ethiopian art detailing "country life" (as one title proclaimed). Click on the pictures and you can make them bigger, to see the details better. The paintings themselves were about 4 feet high and maybe 8 feet long.
Here is Queen of Sheba and King Solomon:
Upstairs we found the Ethnological Museum. First there was an exhibit about different Ethiopian artifacts, jewelry, baskets, and other pieces... except instead of the objects, many times there were enlarged photographs of the objects, with notes that the originals were somewhere else like the British Museum after being taken by British soldiers (for example). It was a sad illustration of cultural treasures having been wrongfully removed from their origin by Westerners. A museum worker told me that years ago there was some sort of agreement that the goods would be returned, but that so far the museum only got pictures. After this exhibit, the upstairs was organized into 3 sections: 1) Childhood, with games and children's tales; 2) Adulthood was the largest section, and talked about traditional medicine, had tools, handicrafts, and discussed the different tribes and their customs; 3) Death and Beyond was a smaller section and showed different grave markers from the obelisks at Axum to the Konso totems. We left the 2nd floor and went upstairs to see a beautiful exhibit on religious art. We learned that the paintings were influenced by cities such as Jerusalem, Cairo, and Venice. There was even a Venetian painter, named Nicolo Brancaleon who lived in Ethiopia for over 40 years, whose paintings of the Virgin Mary and St. George were very influential. We saw a lot of different crosses- stamped on coins from the 4th Century Axum Kingdom, 12th C processional crosses where the large, shallow shaft would mount on the bottom to a wooden stick, hand crosses that priests would pass out to be kissed when met, and neck crosses that children and women Christians would use to protect themselves against evil. The silver crosses were made from leted Maria Teresa dollars: the cross was carved out of wax, then covered in clay, heated up and the wax drained out, and then filled with the molten metal. I wish I could have taken pictures!!
This is the 4.4 million–year–old skeleton of "Ardi, "a 125-piece hominid skeleton that is 1.2 million years older than the famous Lucy. (all of the bones displayed are replicas as the real fossils of Ardi and Lucy are being studied, and Lucy's remains are actually in the US right now). Ardi was a biped, walked upright but also could climb, and her teeth were very similar to modern human's teeth. So amazing! Next we saw what Ethiopian's were calling "the earliest child-" 3.3 million year old remains of a 3 year old biped they named "Selam."
Virgin Mary and other religious scenes:
This shows the Ethiopian style of painting- large almond eyes, short black hair on a "moon" shaped head (as told to me).
The above detail came from this painting- again with the Virgin Mary and St. George- an oil mural on canvas that was 300 years old.
Here is a celebration dinner that our guide told us was Haile Selassie's banquet.
Our guide teaching us some geography. You get a "free" guide upon entering the museum, and we tipped him well for his excellent English services. To the right is a traditional Sidama girl.