Museums in Africa in a process of change

10.08.2018 - Article

Museums in Africa are undergoing a process of change. Directors of the new generation critically scrutinise existing collections. With the series “Museum Conversations”, the Goethe-Institut brings museum curators together to discuss the future of African museums from a post-colonial perspective.

Goethe Institut Namibia wants to discuss with museums their future
Goethe Institut Namibia wants to discuss with museums their future© Goethe Institut Namibia/Tim Brunauer

On July 9, 2018, the series was kicked off in Kigali, where cultural anthropologist and expert on looted art Anna-Maria Brandstetter, Tanzanian curator Flower Manase, and Museums Association of Namibia Director Jeremy Silvester participated. Until November 2018, talks will be held in Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Worldwide, the concept of the museum is changing from a pure representation of the past to a greater involvement of the present and the future. At the same time, museums as institutions play an important role in the development of the art and culture scene of a democratic state. In many African cities, contemporary art is rather under-represented, museums are hardly perceived by the local population or understood as spaces of dialogue. The question about the design of a contemporary, postcolonial museum is inextricably linked to the continuing influence of the western colonial past. In “Museum Conversations”, cultural creators and museum experts work together on models for the future of museums in Sub Saharan Africa.

The prelude on July 9 in Kigali welcomed ethnologist and art-lover Anna-Maria Brandstetter, Tanzanian curator Flower Manase, Museums Association of Namibia Director Jeremy Silvester and Rwandan partners to a conference on the museum as a place of dialogue and engagement. How can one bring the public closer to the museums and to network African museum actors more closely in order to initiate a discourse on new museum concepts? In addition, the conference is about exhibition facilities and the return of objects that were expropriated during the colonial era and are currently in foreign museums.

From August 30 and 31, 2018, the second symposium will take place in Windhoek. It will include a tour of the Independence Memorial Museum and a performance and a lecture by Ciraj Rassool of the University of the Western Cape on visions of the future of African museums. A discussion not open to the public will also be held during which museum experts question current exhibition concepts in southern Africa.

From October 2-4 in Ouagadougou, in cooperation with the National Museum of Burkina Faso and the West African Museums Program (WAMP), representatives of the said museum, invited experts from Germany and the Sub-Saharan Africa region will meet to deliberate on the current situation and future challenges of the museums in Sub-Saharan Africa. On October 22 and 23, 2018 in Kinshasa, future exhibition forms in the respective countries will be discussed.
Further symposia on museum concepts will take place in October and November 2018 in Accra, Lagos and Dar es Salaam. In early 2019, the results of all symposia will be brought together in a regional conference.

© Goethe Institut Namibia

Top of page