Saturday, May 18, 2013

Of museums, art and the International Museum Day: 18 May

Its afternoon, in class, books and pens on my little desk, a man walks in and stands in front of us. The room goes quite, we stare at him. He stares back. He is our lecturer for 'musueology' or museum studies or MUS we would call it.

And this man begins to write on the chalkboard.....

..........Museology:- the study of how to organize and manage museums and museum collections.

Museologist: a professional who works in the museum environment.................

That was in 2005, some 9 years ago and for the next 4 years of my life l was to learn what  museology was all about, and wishing that one day I could become a museologist. Quite a fancy title I think.

"Hie, my name is Richard, I am a museologist"

Museology was a subject that I took keen interest in, (as a student of a new graduate program introduced at a Zimbabwean university*) and it involved object documentation, preventive conservation, display and interpretation methods, storage, security. It also dealt with more recent issues focused today on the museum users. An important aspect as museums need visitors and museum professionals today need updated know-how regarding visitor behaviour patterns, market segments, branding, education, and publicity.

In many museums today, museologists are often subject experts on the museum collections they handle, for example modern art, ancient history, zoology, or even a period or place in history. Museologists also work in galleries as curators, museum educationists, exhibition coordinators, consultants, among other roles.

Well, I did not become a museologist after all, but others did. However, I became an artist, still in the cultural spheres, and a maker of a cultural object that tells a story that one day will provide information on the modern art of the 21st Century to a future generation. Some of my work is part of a large collection of African art at the Museum of Modern Art EG in Equatorial Guinea.

The Goat Interview, Acrylic on Canvas, 2011. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art EG

The Museum of Modern Art- Equatorial Guinea's collection shows traditional and contemporary artworks from across Africa and encompasses pieces by some of the regions best known creators. The Museum seeks to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Africa’s diverse people and culture through the arts. (

The Gentleman's Game, Acrylic on canvas, 2011, Collection of the Museum of Modern Art EG

I have great respect for those in the museum and cultural heritage sector, as I feel it is a very important profession, especially in the context of Africa, in which the indigenous communities take pride in becoming the keepers and managers of our own heritage, unlike to having alien individuals studying thier past and telling them where they come from.The school system must have subjects and programs that allow the new generation to have an appreciation of the importance and role of museums and museum professionals (museologists).

This year, the museum community celebrates international museum day under the theme Museum (memory + creativity) = social change . Museums taking part in these celebrations will interpret an issues that is important in the museum environment and gives an opportunity for museum professionals to meet their public.

 I wish all museologists a happy International Museum Day

Click here to visit the international museum day official website.

*Richard holds a BA Honours degree in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies from the Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe 

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