The National Museum of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MNRDC) will be the centrepiece of the Congo Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2023.
The Congo Pavilion will reimagine its national museum as a vivid virtual world, offering visitors a futuristic digital experience which brings central Africa’s diverse cultures to life.
Produced by MNRDC and Africell and supported by DRC’s digital ministry and embassy in the UK, the Congo Pavilion will shine a spotlight on one of Africa’s most important cultural institutions by translating it into electrifying interactive installation with VR, art, imagery and storytelling.
London Design Biennale is a three-week long international exhibition at historic Somerset House in London, featuring world leading design innovation, creativity and research. The 2023 event will be visited by thousands of people and offers DRC a platform for communicating directly with a global audience, building understanding of its culture, and enhancing its reputation as an African leader in design and innovation.
The theme for London Design Biennale 2023 is ‘The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations’. Exhibitors from all over the world including India, South Korea, UAE, Spain, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, in addition to the DRC, will use their pavilions to explore design-led solutions to issues such as culture, the environment sustainability and conflict management.
MNRDC is home to thousands of artefacts, artworks, and records. Opened in its new building in Kinshasa in 2019, the museum’s architecture blends traditional design with visionary engineering. The Congo pavilion will invite visitors to explore a digital version of the museum, piloting a new approach to cultural education, diplomacy and stewardship.
Jean-Pierre Bokole, director of the MNRDC, says: “Design is in the DNA of the museum’s architecture, curatorial approach and collections. Exhibiting at London Design Biennale will enable many more people to experience MNRDC and will advance the message that good design is an essential requirement for cultural sustainability”.
DRC’s inaugural pavilion at London Design Biennale is the result of a long-term partnership between MNRDC and Africell, one of the country’s main mobile operators. The Congo Pavilion at London Design Biennale 2023 is a flagship project for the Africell Impact Foundation and involves collaboration with a range of governmental and arts institutions.
“Africell wants to move beyond traditional conceptions of ‘corporate social responsibility’” says Ziad Dalloul, CEO of Africell. “Our work to bring MNRDC to London targets real impact in the form of greater international understanding of Congolese culture and greater appreciation of Congo’s status as an African creative leader. We are excited by this partnership and are pleased to be working with the MNRDC and various DRC government bodies to promote the country to a wider audience”.
African representation at previous editions of London Design Biennale has included designers from Ghana, Nigeria and the ‘African diaspora’. 2023 is the first time that DRC – the second biggest country in Africa, with a population of almost a hundred million – has exhibited.
Victoria Broackes, Director of London Design Biennale, says that the Congo Pavilion’s exemplifies the theme for 2023.
“We are thrilled to have the Democratic Republic of Congo present a pavilion at London Design Biennale for the first time. The installation is an opportunity for visitors to see into the heart of the National Museum and digitally explore its dynamic and diverse collections. This speaks brilliantly to our theme of Remapping Collaborations: with the innovative use of technology, with the multi-way collaborations and how they come together in realizing the project, but also in the possibilities that this hidden world of treasures can now bring to inspire people around the globe, well into the future.”
London Design Biennale 2023 will take place from 1 to 25 June at Somerset House in central London. To learn more about the DRC Pavilion, visit the London Design Biennale website.
The MNRDC, located in Kinshasa, is among Africa’s most impressive cultural institutions and an essential repository of Congolese arts and artefacts. It encompasses both modern and traditional architectural styles, is built with sustainable local materials, and was designed to the highest environmental standards.
Since opening in late 2019 (having been rebuilt with the support of the South Korean government), the MNRDC has won praise for its visionary aesthetic and a curatorial approach which illuminates exhibits in a modern and accessible way.
Established in 2016 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, London Design Biennale promotes international collaboration and the global role of design. Since its inception the Biennale welcomes the world’s most exciting and ambitious designers, innovators and cultural bodies to the capital. The fourth edition of London Design Biennale will take place from 1 to 25 June 2023, artistically directed by the Nieuwe Instituut—the Dutch national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture.
London Design Biennale's International Advisory Committee and Jury includes: Paola Antonelli, Victoria Broackes, Aric Chen, Es Devlin OBE, Nipa Doshi, Ben Evans CBE, Marva Griffin Willshire, Suhair Khan, James Lingwood MBE, Prof. Jeremy Myerson, Tosin Oshinowo, Jonathan Reekie CBE, Rashid and Ahmed bin Shabib, Sir John Sorrell CBE, Dr. Christopher Turner.
Africell provides mobile network coverage and related technology services to more than 16 million subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa. We operate in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. The only US-owned mobile network operator in Africa, Africell directly and indirectly employs more than 10,000 people.
Through the Africell Impact Foundation, Africell supports initiatives in the areas of education and entrepreneurship; arts, culture, and heritage; health, sports and wellbeing; and environment action and emergency relief. Our ambition is to narrow Africa’s opportunity gap by linking people to the digital and physical resources they need to engage fully in community life.