C o m m o n w e a l t h
A s s o c i a t i o n o f
M u s e u m s
CAM Bulletin Number 1 - Jan. 1996
The Mina McKenzie lecture, 1995
The 1995 lecture was given on Thursday 8 June by Mr Duncan Cameron, Visiting Teaching Fellow in Museum Studies at Massey University. Entitled 'Museums after the Year of the Dragon' the theme of his address was the future of museums to the year 2000.
Mr Cameron's entertaining and provocative address argued the need for museums to change, as society becomes more pluralistic, to allow various points of view to be heard. He suggested museums would become artefacts themselves if they did not change with the times. Museums should, he said, be looking closely at their policies, constitutions and missions embracing change and becoming agents for change, ensuring their intentions are to do things with the public rather than for them. Museums can no longer presume to decide what is best for their publics but should be looking to making partnerships with their communities and to 'shared curatorship so that authentic voices are heard and the community speaks in its own tongues'.
Museum professionals have a new and exciting role as facilitators, rather than as experts and sole presenters of knowledge in the museum. As a prospective member of the museum profession it is something I look forward to. It is also an approach that some of our own museums, The Science Centre and Manawatu Museum included. are experimenting with.
Towards the end of his address, Mr Cameron explained his choice of title. The year 2000 is not a new millennium for the Chinese people rather it is an 'artefact of time peculiar to a minority of the world's population, and nothing more'. Time, he argued, cannot be measured against arbitrary mile posts and the future is not in five years' time, but now. In conclusion Mr Cameron invited to audience to remember that 'when the cock crows tomorrow, remember that our future and the future of our museums begins then, at dawn. Please join me there'.
Following the end of the lecture, a vote of thanks was given by Mr Cameron's longtime sparring partner, Professor Keith Thomson.
Manawatu Museum Society Counci
R1 Million Boost to Tswaing Crater Museum, South Africa
The Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology has allocated R1 million from his department's budget towards the development of the Tswaing Crater Museum project.
Minister Dr. Ben Ngubane today said that the Museum will offer a unique opportunity to combine aspects of science and technology with cultural development in a way that clearly supports the aims of the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
The crater is situated in the north west corner of Gauteng and is surrounded by formal and informal settlements such as Winterveld and Soshanguve. Many people in the area were forcibly removed under apartheid and only 36,37% of the population are economically active.
The Minister said he hoped the allocation would help ensure that the people in the surrounding community derive the maximum possible benefit from the Museum. Approximately 200,000 years ago, when a meteorite smashed into the earth, the resulting explosion left a crater about 1. 13 km wide and 200 meters deep.
In the years since this spectacular event, the crater has functioned as a natural museum. Half of the original depth of 200 meters has been filled with sediment containing a unique chronicle of the human, animal and plant life in the area. Analysis of the sediment has provided the world's most complete record of vegetation and climatic change over the 200,000 years.
The crater has also been inhabited by humans for some 120,000 years. Stone age tools and weapons have been discovered on the site and on the rim of the crater is the remains of an early Tswana settlement.
The crater is currently host to more bird varieties than Britain, over 400 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and other floral species. Although mammals have been depleted over the years, the aim is to restock the reserve with species which historically inhabited it.
The recent plan to turn the meteorite crater into a site museum was spearheaded by the Natural Cultural History Museum - an associated institution of the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. A site museum conserves, documents, researches and interprets the natural and cultural heritage of a site in a holistic and integrated way. The development of the project follows the Integrated Environmental Management procedure, which defines the environment to encompass biophysical, cultural and socioeconomic components.
According to the National Cultural History Museum, the local community has been involved in defining how the museum would run and what it would look like.
A list of their needs has been drawn up and combined with those of the site museum, including conservation and environmental management, recreation, education and training, research, tourism and the needs of the adjacent communities for job creation. The plan is also to collect oral narratives of the area and its history, so that the museum portrays the site from the point of view of both the local community and from a scientific vantage point.
The tourism potential of the site is enormous, which in turn will provide opportunities for the development of a craft industry. The site will also be used for environmental education and recreation. The Natural Cultural History Museum also proposed that facilities for accommodating overnight guests be developed, along with a formal museum, a curio shop, a training centre, a community hall, a clinic and a library.
The Minister's allocation forms part of the department's ongoing reprioritisation of expenditure in ways that will benefit previously disadvantaged communities. The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology has committed itself to working with all stakeholders to ensure the Crater Museum realises its full potential. The Minister said that he intends to promote cooperation between the communities, the Museum and the private sector.
NB: The people at Tswaing Crater Museum, the Curator of Tswaing, Abe Damaneyt, and Dr Udo Kusel, Director of the National Cultural History Museum of South Africa express their thanks to the delegates of the Commonwealth Association of Museums (1995 Study Tour and Outreach Program Botswana and South Africa) for their advocacy and support for the project.
CAM Executive Council, 1995-1998
Emmanuel N Arinze
Dr Amareswar Galla
Duncan F Cameron
Reginald J Varney
From Professor Pitika Ntuli To CAM members
University of Westville, Durban
At last at ease here at home
We negotiate fields
Of tangibles and intangibles.
The moveables and unmoveables.
We carry out the archaeology of our past
To let the now cast beams into the future.
We are embraced
By resonant arms of Amasiko.
We let site museums sing....
We inter and internalise
Let storytelling cross overs with frozen
Memories of flora and fauna.
We inherit stories and songs and ....
Tangibles intangibles, moveables.
Unmoveable to move us up
Into the Rainbow to claim our colours
In a spirit complementarity emerging
From the Yesterday of Confrontations.