Mancala boards in the Swiss Game Museum, La Tour-de-Peilz

Many museums have important collections of mancala boards. A museum is a "permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for the purposes of education, study, and enjoyment", as defined by the International Council of Museums.


D. R. of the Congo

Musée National de Kinshasa
Avenue du 24 Novembre, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Gayer-Anderson Museum
Abd al-Magid al-Labban (Al-Salbiyya) Street, Sayyida Zeinab, Cairo, Egypt


Musée National du Mali
Rue du Général Leclerc, BP 159, Bamako, Mali

  • one of the oldest Awalé boards, probably dating from the 14th century


Owela Museum (National Museum of Namibia)
4 Lüderitz Street / Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia

  • permanent Owela exhibition, where visitors can play against experienced players


Sukuma Museum
Bujora Parish, P.O. Box 76, Mwanza, Tanzania

  • two Isolo boards of poured and painted concrete



Government Museum
Rani Mangammal Mahal, 19 Bharathidasan Road, Tiruchipalli, Tamil Nadu, India.


Museum Anak "Kolong Tangga"
Teras lantai II, Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, Jl. Sriwedani, Yogyakarta. Central Java, Indonesia


Abay House Museum
Abay, Zhidebay district, Kazakhstan


Burana Museum
Tokmok, Kyrgyztan

National Historical Museum of the Kyrgyz Republic
Ala Too Square, Bishkek, Kyrgyztan


Muzium Negara - National Museum of Malaysia
50566 Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Muzium Sejarah dan Ethnografi (Stadthuys)
Jalan Kota, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia

  • traditional Congkak board on display

Muzium Sejarah Nasional - National History Museum
29, Jalan Raja, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Don Leon Apacible Museum and Library
Calle Marcella M. Agoncillo, Taal 4208, Batangas, Philippines

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House
155 Mabini St. Parian, Cebu City 6000, Philippines


Singapore Sports Museum
Jurong West Sports & Recreation Centre, 20, Jurong West Street 93, Singapore 648965

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka National Museum
P.O Box 854, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka

  • Olinda boards from the Kandy period, one of them was used by King Ehelapola who died in 1815


Bảo tàng Dân tộc học Việt Nam - Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Nguyen Van Huyen Road, Cau Giay District, Hanoi, Vietnam

  • Ô Ăn Quan is exhibited with fully explained instructions with the aim of keeping the game alive among children nowadays



Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale / Koninklijk Museum voor Midden - Afrika
Leuvensesteenweg 13, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium

  • many Mancala boards, but the collection can be viewed by appointment only and just by researchers, exhibition curators and postgraduate students


Musée du Jouet
5, rue du Murgin, 39260 Moirans-en-Montagne, France

  • boards from Rwanda and the Ivory Coast

Musée du Quai Branly
55, Quai Branly, 75007 Paris, France

  • good searchable catalogue, which includes items not on display in the museum itself (mancala boards are classified under a number of different categories, such as jeux de cupules, plateaux de jeu, mancala, mankala, etc.)
  • more than 40 boards (e.g. from Vietnam ("Pan u ao"), Niger, Ethiopia)


Deutsches Spielearchiv Nürnberg
Egidienplatz 23/ 2. OG, 90403 Nürnberg, Germany

  • Bao and Oware boards
  • modern mancala games

Museum der Weltkulturen
Schaumainkai 29-37, 60594 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Schloss Weikersheim
Marktplatz 11, 97990 Weikersheim, Germany

  • two Baroque mancala tables made by the famous Sommer family of artists in the early 18th century


Museum Volkenkunde
Steenstraat 1, 2312 BS Leiden, Netherlands

  • Matoe board from eastern Sumba, Indonesia

Linnaeusstraat 2, 1092CK Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • mancala exhibition in 2002
  • mancala boards from Java, Ghana and Ethiopia


Gosudarstvennyj Èrmitaž (Государственный Эрмитаж)
34 Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya, St. Petersburg 190000, Russia

Rossijskij Etnografičekij Musej (Российский этнографический музей)
4/1 Ulitsa Inzhenernaya, St. Petersburg 191011, Russia


Museo de Burgos
Calle Miranda, 13, 09002 Burgos, Spain

Museo Nacional de Antropología
Calle Alfonso XII, 68, 28014 Madrid, Spain


Södra vägen 54 41254 Göteborg, Sweden


Historisches Museum Bern
Helvetiaplatz 5, 3005 Bern, Switzerland

  • gold weights shaped like mancala game boards for golden scales

Le Musée Suisse du Jeu / Schweizerische Spielmuseum
Au Château, Case postale 9, 1814 La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland

  • annual Awélé tournaments
  • small collection of mancala boards (India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Rwanda)

Hadlaubstrasse 106, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland

Musée d'Ethnographie de Genève
Boulevard Carl-Vogt 65, 1205 Genève, Switzerland & Chemin Calandrini 7, 1231 Conches, Switzerland

  • at least 11 African mancala boards (Benin, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ruanda, Tanzania)

Musées Barbier-Mueller
Rue Calvin 10, 1204 Genève, Switzerland

  • a sculptured Mancala board, which terminates in a carved human head from Liberia

United Kingdom

Anthropological Museum, Marischal College
Marischal College, Broad Street, Aberdeen AB10 1YS, Scotland, United Kingdom

  • Kyngee bel board from West Africa (presented to the museum in 1820)

British Empire Commonwealth Museum
Station Approach, Temple Meads, Bristol BS1 6QH, England, United Kingdom

Ipswich Museum
High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH, England, United Kingdom

Museum of Mankind / British Museum
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, England, United Kingdom

Museum of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
96 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 3DH, Scotland, United Kingdom

  • 6 feet tall Mancala board

Pitt Rivers Museum
South Parks Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 3PP, England, United Kingdom

  • a Main Chakot board from Thailand

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AJ, England, United Kingdom

  • Ayo board of the Yoruba people (picture)

North America


Barbados Museum
St. Ann’s Gate, Garrison, St. Michael, Barbados BB14038, West Indies

  • traditional "Warri" game board on display


Elliot Avedon Museum & Archives of Games, University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1

  • at least 15 mancala boards including one unusual board from Haiti

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands National Museum
Harbour Drive (or: P.O. Box 2189 GT), George Town, Cayman Islands, KY1-1105

  • a mancala board hewn from a mahoe tree, which was found washed ashore in Bodden Town


American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024-5192, USA

  • at least 25 mancala boards including 19 from Africa, 3 from Asia, and 3 from Surinam

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052, USA

  • largely unpublished pamphlets, photo reproductions, drawings, typescripts and correspondence of Stewart Culin and his research work on mancala
  • a 19th century mancala game board from Sierra Leone, possibly from the Bulom people, and another 20th century board, possibly Tuareg (description, photo of another board)

Mariposa Museum
26 Main Street, Peterborough, NH 03458, USA

  • an unusual 2x7 board claimed to be of African origin, although it looks rather like an Indonesian Congkak board (photo)

Milwaukee Public Museum
800 West Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233, USA

  • several mancala boards from Africa

Museum for African Art
36-01 43rd Avenue at 36th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA

  • Mancala exposition at the United Nations Headquarters in 2008

Penn Museum - University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

  • boards from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Borneo

Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101-2003, USA

  • Enkeshui board with rock, glass and aluminum beads and wooden Enkeshui sticks from Kenya

Yale University Art Gallery
P.O. Box 208271, New Haven, CT 06520-8271, USA

Museum of York County
4621 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill, York, SC 29732-9637, USA

  • 20th century Mancala board from West Africa (photo)

South America


Museu Afro-Brasileiro
Praça Terreiro de Jesus s/n, Antiga Faculdade de Medicina, Centro Histórico, 40025-010 Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

  • a couple of West African Ayo boards on display


Voogt, A. J. de
Changing Objects: Aesthetic Qualities of Mancala Boards. In: Museum Anthropology 1996; 20 (3): 150-153.
Voogt, A. J. de 
Mancala Board Games. British Museum Press, London (UK) 1997.
Voogt, A. J. de.
Mancala Boards (Olinda Keliya) in the National Museums of Colombo. In: Board Game Studies 2000; 3: 90-99.
Voogt, A. J. de.
Mancala Exhibition in the Tropenmuseum (CD-ROM Publication). KIT Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (Netherlands) 2002.
Voogt, A. J. de.
Mancala: Games That Count. In: Expedition 2001; 43 (1): 38-46.
Walker, R. A. 
A Sculptured Mancala Gameboard Terminating in a Carved Human Head from Liberia in the Barbier-Mueller Museum. In: Bulletin Association des Amis du Musée Barbier-Mueller 1986; 32 : 1-6.


© Ralf Gering
Under the CC by-sa 2.5 license.

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