Local museums face extinction

NATIONAL Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) deputy director and chief curator, Raphael Chikukwa has said museums in the country risk collapse due to a raft of factors, including poor management and lack of funding.

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO

Chikukwa, who was speaking at a discussion on the future of African museums during the International Museums Day on Friday last week, said museums were likely to go the way of cinemas, which are now almost defunct.

“I am very concerned about the future of museums in Zimbabwe. There are cinemas that died and many were then turned into churches. Most of African countries inherited these institutions from colonial governments and many of these museums are decaying before their death,” he said.

“I don’t think we need to go that way. We need to be relevant. The future of museums in Africa is in our hands. Our continent should maintain these museums and build new ones.”

Chikukwa cited Senegal and Egypt as some of the countries that have developed new state-of-the-art museums, which Zimbabwe can emulate.

“The Senegalese have managed to build a grand state-of-the-art theatre. In Egypt, they decided to build the largest museum in the world. If these countries are managing, it’s something Zimbabwe needs to embrace and emulate,” he said.

Chikukwa said there was no future without museums, so there was need to continue investing in them.

“It’s our dream to continue with the legacy left 60 years ago. So in the next three years, we would like to have another museum outside Harare, Bulawayo or Mutare. There is no future without museums,” he said.

Chikukwa said there was need to take advantage of advancement in technology, educate government and technocrats the importance of museums and address the issues of funding.

“There is a knowledge gap we still need to fill starting from the younger generation. They should know the importance of these museums,” he said.
The International Museums Day was commemorated under the theme Hyper-connected Museums: New Approaches, New Publics.


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2 Comments

  1. I agree. We need even museums of natural science and technology. I move that the next STATE OF THE ART museum be built in Masvingo. As a SIGNIFICANT historical town in our country, it’s even a mystery why we do not have one there already!

  2. Museums in Zimbabwe were the focus of the speech by the Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe on International Museums Day. Surprising, as there is nothing really in common between an Art Gallery and a Museum. Thus Mr Chikukwa cannot be expected to be fully informed of the situation on the ground regarding Museums.

    Whilst it is true that most of the important institutions, including Museums, are under-funded, one that is efficiently managed, supported by a very active group of Friends and far from collapsing is the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. This is humming! Visitors through the door generally amount to over 30,000 and this last year this figure increased by 10%. The Museum has been refurbished throughout; one new exhibit was built in the last 3 years; another major, bang-up-to-date display will be launched next month; a new Education Centre complete with computers has been set up; there is an ongoing schools Outreach Programme; and each term school children at all grades are bussed in from all over the country.

    Mr Chikukwa will be warmly welcomed if he would like to visit the Natural History Museum.

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