The Goethe-Institut Namibia supported by the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) recently held a 5-day training session for officials from the Ju/’Hoansi- San Living Museum, OvaHimba Living Museum and the Damara Living Museum.
The first of the two-part training under the Museums Outreach Programme (MOP) focused on marketing and museum management. MOP is funded by the European
Union in Namibia through a 200,000 Euro agreement signed in 2019 and aims to
protect and promote cultural rights of the minorities and indigenous people of
MAN Museums Development Officer, Tuuda Haitula said they designed the
workshop to be interactive and responsive to the needs of the museums.
“Participants were able to give their input and understood the importance of cultural heritage and why it needs to be safeguarded, as well as how they are contributing towards that,” he said. Haitula said the idea of a local conservation kit was well received and participants look forward to have their objects and stories travel to different parts of Namibia. The conservation kit will be produced for any person in communities to learn and function as a custodian of objects, while schools are to receive teaching kits to empower the youth at an early stage.
The MOP stems from past cooperation between the Goethe-Institut and UNAM on
the paradigm shift in museology across post-colonial Africa that emphasizes the
importance of community engagement in the operations of a museum as an institution of heritage management and conservation. Participants in the MOP have the opportunity to document traditional forms of conservation and thus value the indigenous knowledge systems that exist in Namibia. “Cultural heritages provides individuals and societies with a sense of belonging. We feel grateful and privileged to support local living museums in their task to become sustainable and vital expressions of cultural legacy as well as living cultural practice,” said Goethe- Institut Namibia Director, Dennis Schroeder.
“Cultural heritage is an important expression of cultural diversity that deserves to
be protected and promoted. Through the Museum Outreach Programme (MOP) our aim is to promote mutual understanding and learning, cooperation with local stakeholders and civil society that will solicit local participation, co-creation and local empowerment. The MOP is an exciting and innovative initiative whereby we would like museums in Namibia to become spaces of cultural valuation that has economic benefit and facilitate social debate instead of static sites to visit. In this way museums becomes a space of meaning to local communities and can help build a Namibian audience,” said Sinikka Antila, EU Ambassador to Namibia.
Participants expressed gratitude for the training session that taught them not only about marketing their museum on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram but also the strengths and weaknesses of their establishments in order to identify opportunities for improvement. Having museums be ready for the tourism industry and accommodating persons living with disabilities stood out.