Museum Conversations

Museums in Africa in a process of change

Independence Memorial Museum Tim Brunauer ©Goethe-Institut Namibia
Museums in Africa are undergoing a process of change. Directors of the new generation critically scrutinize existing collections and traditional forms of exhibition and presentation. With the series "Museum Conversations", the Goethe-Institut brings international academics, museum experts and curators together to discuss the future of African museums from a post-colonial perspective.

On July 9, 2018, the series kicks 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 are to participate. 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 will welcome 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 30th to 31st August 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 the 22nd and 23rd of October 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.

The "Museum Conversations" are a series of projects run by the Goethe-Institutes in Sub-Saharan Africa and take place at the participating locations in cooperation with local national museums, museums associations ministries and UNESCO. They offer space for the initiation of an inner African discourse.
Museen in Afrika in einem Wandlungsprozess