Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is full of art galleries, creative events, and cool crafty shops—you just have to know where to look.
“Visitors to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are often pointed in the direction of coffee ceremonies, cultural shows featuring traditional music and dance, a collection of churches, and ‘Lucy,’ a three-million-year-old hominid skeleton discovered in 1974,” writes impact strategist Amirah Jiwa on the rising creative class in Addis Ababa for Here Magazine issue 12. “But for those looking to traverse beyond the tourist circuit, Addis offers a rich, modern, and individually Ethiopian creative scene accessible to anyone willing to look for it.”
Soon after arriving for a six-month stint, Jiwa realized there was no neatly-curated arts and culture guide to plug her into all that was happening on the cutting edge of creativity in Addis. “I treated Facebook events, Telegram groups, posters pinned up in local cafes, and the ever-reliable word of mouth as breadcrumbs,” says Jiwa, “and discovered a collaborative, community-focused landscape of initiatives.”
Get straight to the heart of Ethiopia’s burgeoning creative scene below with the 11 best galleries, events, and shops for meeting the artists of Addis Ababa.
A contemporary art gallery committed to providing an international platform for both established and up-and-coming Ethiopian artists.
A trove of treasures, including antique Ethiopian furniture, tucked away in an old turreted house.
A gallery and learning institute dedicated to the work of Gebre Kristos Desta, who lived and worked in Germany but helped bring Ethiopian art to the international stage.
4. Zoma Museum
An environmentally-conscious contemporary art center that features an exhibition space, lush edible gardens, an art library, and sculpted walls made using traditional building techniques.
A legendary art school that for more than five decades has produced the country’s most notable painters, sculptors, printmakers, and designers. Visit Ethiopia’s only art school to see work by its current and former students.
A biennial international photography festival established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur Aida Muluneh.
A social enterprise selling traditional Ethiopian crafts with basket-weaving and silversmithing on site.
8. Art of Ethiopia
An annual showcase of Ethiopian art hosted and organized by the Sheraton Hotel. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming show dates.
The softest Fairtrade textiles sold in an oasis of a shop tucked away in a jungly garden on the outskirts of the city. The production workshop with weavers, spinners, and dyers at work is on site and open to the public.
Addis is chock-full of leather shops, but perhaps the best of the lot is Meron, which sells buttery-soft bags in clean, geometric styles.
A concept store and coffee shop creating market opportunities for over 200 artists and artisans.