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 5 - Dec. 1998
GCAM Column #2
The GCAM group has been very active in the months since the Nairobi Workshop in November of 1997. We have received so many extensive reports that it is not possible to reproduce them all in full in this column. So our policy will be to give an overview of the activities in Africa which are bringing children and museums together, to highlight a few comments and examples from our colleagues and to relay any special news from the Secretariat.
The column will be complemented by special mailings of the full reports that we are receiving and other pertinent information too long to include here.
First of all, CAM is especially pleased and grateful to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Government of Canada, and the Canadian Museums Association for supporting CAM with the four internships described above. Two of the interns, Colleen Bauman in Botswana and Andrea Gumpert in Kenya were engaged to specifically assist the host museums with children's programming and the GCAM programme. Our first step in raising funds to keep GCAM a dynamic network!
We already have two reports prepared from the internship programme. The first is the compilation of the Pre-workshop survey on Children's programming in Commonwealth African countries, done by both Colleen and Andrea. This report will circulated more widely even than the GCAM group because there were 29 responses to the survey with 7 from non-participating museums. The second is a description of the Botswana's "Zebra on Wheels" mobile museum programme done by CAM's intern for the National Museum and to be distributed with their approval. The interns will be writing articles for the Bulletin on their experiences and writing the programmes they are doing for the GCAM participants.
The reports received will be sent to the GCAM members in the next few weeks. Meanwhile we will describe here one of the earliest programme reports from Kenya.
Fredrick Karanja Mirara, Head of the Education Department writes about a collaborative children's art exchange programme with the Japanese, organized by GCAM in Kenya. The theme of the competition was "My Environment" with a special focus on food, shelter and clothing. The objective was to sensitise the children about the role of the museum and stimulate their thinking about the environment as we approach the next millennium. This was to be done by collecting paintings in order to do the exchange programme with Japan.
The competition was co-ordinated in Nairobi and a steering committee consisted of the Museum Exhibition and Education Departments and the Curator's Office. Artists who work at the museum studio were also involved.
The target participants were children of 5-14 years and there was no restrictions as to medium of expression - oil, water colour, tempera dyes, acrylic paints, crayons, markers, etc. The size was to be not less than 20 x 45 cm and not more than 60 x 90 cm. Paintings were to be neither framed nor covered by glass and were to be accompanied by a brief description. Names, addresses and names of Head Teachers and Parents were also necessary.
The Steering Committee drew up the rules of the competition and prepared publicity materials that included poster, leaflet and covering letter. The deadline was June 30, 1998. These were then dispatched to all the regional museums in Kenya. The local press was also used to publicise the competition. An advertisement appeared in the local paper Daily Nation and the local television also publicised the contest. The museum received 450 paintings from all over the country.
The paintings were judged on July 7th 1998 and the winners were published in the local press for the two categories: 5-9 years and 10-14 years. Other paintings were also selected making a total of 51. They were sent to the Ikeda Public Art Museum in Nagano, Japan for exhibition from August 1 to September 15. The exhibition travels to Yonaga City Children's Culture Centre, Tottori, Japan from October 21 to November 8. The paintings are being shown together with 50 paintings from Japanese children and will come to Nairobi in February 1999.
Reports have also been received from Lucina Shayo at the Village Museum in Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania, Michael Gondwe, Malawi, and Charity Namukoko Salasini in Lusaka. Fuller versions will be included in the package. Lucina relates that there have been three major programmes this year, a children's festival "Children and Art" in late January 1998, a science and mathematics teachers' workshop which involved students and produced a small guide book and another children's festival in December where children were given the chance to give their ideas about future museum activities and their critiques of the museum. They created their own vision of the museum including role-playing as hosts and hostesses in the traditional houses, traditional plays and games, writing poems, stories, riddles and proverbs and drawing pictures depicting the stories, and exhibiting their work. The Education staff will be implementing some of their ideas and working with the direction that the children have set. The effort to involve children in programme planning was one of the key elements of the Nairobi workshop and we are happy to hear of Lucina's example of planning with the children.
Michael Gondwe writes: I would like to share with GCAM colleagues what my museum is doing regarding museum education programmes involving children... I would like to appeal to my colleagues within the Commonwealth who may wish to twin their museum with mine especially those museums doing similar activities". The full report will go to GCAM participants with the package to be sent soon and will go to any other CAM museums on request. Michael describes the Children's Club, the Mobile Museum, Video programme, Lecture programmes, Excursions and Special Events.
The Children's Club is held on Saturday morning for children age 6-13 to have the opportunity to make crafts, sing, dance and learn about the museum objects. The Mobile Museum reaches out to the rural areas to fulfill the objective of interpreting the natural and cultural heritage of Malawi. The current theme is the ethnic groups of Malawi and their environment, and is presented through lectures, museum exhibits and film shows focusing on the Ngoni people and the Chewa people. The mobile museum will visit three districts this year. The video films are featured fortnightly for both adults and children. The lectures are targeted to primary and secondary school children bimonthly and are often done in liaison with other institutions with similar interests to the museum, e.g. Wildlife, Archives. The Special Events feature traditional dance performances and introduce the audience to dance and ceremonies which may be performed publicly (some are restricted to special participants) and help to explain some of the objects in the museum such as musical instruments, special regalia and masks. The details of these programmes will be distributed in Michael's report.
Charity Namukoko Salasini writes from Lusaka where she moved after her marriage. She has sent the details of a children's programme on "Traditional Artefacts of Zambia: Children's Art Workshop". This report will be distributed to GCAM members. The main objectives were to educate children on some traditional artefacts of Zambia and to educate and encourage children on the importance of preserving Zambia's cultural heritage. The programme was targeted to children between 8 and 12 years of age from 10 different schools in Lusaka and included demonstrations, discussions, drawing and writing and designing and making traditional objects. The children used their own works of art and the objects were displayed along with the captions written by the children. Seventy objects were selected and exhibited in the "Children's Corner" of the Lusaka National Museum. The programme was sponsored by the European Union through the Bantu Regional Cultural Programme of Zambia.
Charity writes that the Director of the Lusaka National Museum has allocated space for the Children's Corner. She speaks of it in its "infant stage... My joy lies in its existence, in the first place. The Chinese proverb says: 'A journey of one thousand miles begins with one step'. My dream is to go even beyond one thousand miles". This thought is one that we might keep in our hearts as an encouragement to our GCAM programme.
We know there are other activities happening at the museum of other GCAM participants and we look forward to hearing of your work and sharing your ideas with others.