Musée Andafivaratra

Museum in Antananarivo

Housed in a magnificent pink baroque palace, this museum is the former home of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, the power behind the throne of the three queens he married in succession (Rasoherina, Ranavalona II and Ranavalona III) between 1864 and 1895. The museum’s collection is a dusty assortment of memorabilia from Merina (a tribal group) kings and queens, but it illuminates some colourful characters of that era.

The Merina crown jewels were stolen in 2013 and are yet to be recovered. Of the remaining artefacts, among the most interesting is a portrait of mad Queen Ranavalona I, dumpy in a coral silk crinoline and scowling out from her oil painting, while Jean Laborde, the French adventurer presumed to be her lover, glowers from beneath his beard in a black-and-white photograph.

There’s also a huge gilt throne; originals of important trade treaties between Madagascar and the US, the UK and France; coats of chain mail; and a random selection of presents from foreign crowns through the ages. Explanations of the exhibits are in English as well as French.