This article investigates the colonial photographic collections belonging to the traveller Giuseppe De Reali (1877-1937) and the anthropologist Nello Puccioni (1881-1937). Between the end of the nineteenth century and the 1930s, both visited the African continent several times, creating two collections — a zoological-naturalistic one, and an anthropologicalethnographic
one — that are now kept and partly displayed in the Natural History Museum of Venice and in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology in Florence, respectively. By analysing these images, the article examines the modes of representation of the African continent and its populations, and the functions and meanings acquired by pictures and objects in the transfer to museums. In conclusion, it raises a series of preliminary questions concerning the continuities of exhibition practices between the fascist and the republican period.