The project Reimagining Heritage, Archives and Museums: Today/Tomorrow follows dialogue and cooperation projects funded by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), in the heritage, archive and museum sectors in South Africa and other African countries. The convening aims to explore ways to facilitate the preservation and promotion of heritage (material and immaterial), archives and museums through new ideas and concrete tools and programmes. It aims to address the complex challenges of today, driven by new technologies and vocal civil movements.
This convening signifies a renewed and ongoing commitment from the French Embassy and IFAS to support heritage, archive, and museum spaces in Africa. “Reimagining Heritage, Archives and Museums: Today/Tomorrow will facilitate dialogue and collaboration among Southern Africa and France, and more broadly Africa and Europe. We are invested in the continent’s creative and cultural sector and look forward to the realisation of these fruitful exchanges” says Mr. David Martinon, Ambassador of France to South Africa.
The curatorial committee comprised of cultural leaders Emmanuel Kasarhérou (President of Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac), Ngaire Blankenberg (Founding director of the Institute for Creative Repair) and Molemo Moiloa (Artist, Director and Head of research of Andani.Africa) will develop a convening programme that highlights innovative approaches through four themes:
- Focus on the Public: How can museums and heritage institutions be more reflective, inclusive, responsive, visible, and accountable to the people they serve? How can they stay relevant to changing populations and abreast of new trends and directions? How is inclusivity reflected in collections, staffing, partnerships, exhibitions, public programmes, and marketing? What is the role of evaluation and impact assessments in our sector- what should we be measuring? What are innovative examples showing the integration of heritage and archives in the Arts/ Creative industries/ Urban and rural development/ Education/ Healthcare/ Publishing/ Metaverse/ Tourism and more? What are examples and possibilities of cross-sectoral engagement? Multidisciplinarity? What are effective methods of co-creation and community engagement?
- Collections and Research: How can we better care for, document, research and manage our collections? How can collections (tangible and intangible) contribute to the uncovering, development, and application of indigenous knowledge? What are new modes of collection care that respond to climate change, price of fossil fuels, extreme weather? What is care within an African context? What are the limitations of current systems of classification and documentation, and what role is played by collections inventories? What are the challenges posed by imperatives of digitization? What do we do with our archives? What new research is out there? What are under-valued yet important research areas? How can we make these collections better known and recognised in Africa and Europe?
- Restitution: How to bridge the gap between African and European discourse and expectations when it comes to restitution? What are African responses to European policies and vice versa? What is the case for reparations? What are good examples of successful restitutions- where are the challenges? What is the status of and next steps for outstanding restitution requests?
- Operational Sustainability: How can heritage institutions in Africa and Europe ensure adequate, sustained resources to fulfil their missions? Who are key stakeholders when it comes to the protection and celebration of heritage? What are the present and potential roles of the private and public sectors/International donor agencies (state and non-state)/The Art market/the Tourism
sector/ Universities/ Developers and so on? What are effective and innovative funding and operating models? What are optimal breakdowns of resources between operations, building management and programming? How can new technologies be used to improve operations and sustainability?
Reimagining Heritage, Archives and Museums: Today/Tomorrow is comprised of three components: the international conference, a mentorship programme focused on the advancement of the careers of young professionals in the heritage, museum, and archive sector, and a series of formal and informal professional meetings in Johannesburg and Pretoria following the convening in Cape Town.
This convening, initiated by IFAS, is implemented with the support of strategic partner Communicating the Arts (CTA), and produced in conjunction with Breinstorm Brand Architects. Confirmed partners include the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Cape Town Art Fair and Iziko Museums of South Africa.
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