Photo: MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
For much of the past four decades, Menelik Palace loomed over Addis Ababa as a symbol of imperial imposition. Now, nearly two years into his term and with a Nobel Peace Prize already under his belt, the country’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has opened the 19th-century palace to the public and tapped local artist Elias Sime to build a public garden, slated to open midyear alongside the once-forbidding space. It’s the latest sign that something has shifted in Ethiopia’s capital — and thanks to a major expansion of Addis Ababa’s airport that’s tripled capacity and brought new routes, U.S. travelers can easily witness the change firsthand. Last year, Sime and his partner, the curator and cultural anthropologist Meskerem Assegued, opened the Zoma Museum after a 20-year planning and building process. Situated in the Mekanisa neighborhood, the museum blends Ethiopia old and new, using vernacular architecture as a backdrop for contemporary art — including some of Sime’s own pieces. In its attention to both traditional and modern influences, Zoma parallels the aims of Addis Foto Fest, a biennial photography festival that will be held again in December 2020. Until then, find work by the country’s finest artists on display at institutions such as St. George Gallery, Addis Fine Art, and LeLa Gallery. —Hannah Giorgis
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