KwaZulu-Natal Museum participation at the regional South African Museums Association Conference and the fieldwork in Zululand
The conference took place at uMgungundlovu Multimedia Centre, eMakhosini valley, ~20 km SW of Ulundi, 23 – 26 August 2022, ~150 metres NE of the burial place of Nkosinkulu, – Zulu kaMalandela, the founder of the Zulu nation.
The aim of the Conference was to exchange ideas on “How can we sustain museums in the post-lockdown era”. Because the KwaZulu-Natal Museum is not only “bringing the Museum to the people”, but not forgetting to “bring the people to the Museum”, the number of visitors is already approaching pre-lockdown levels (with the exception of organised school groups, which are rapidly rising). The main goal of community outreach programmes is not to educate and entertain, but to encourage people to explore the new horizons and to help them to go where they had not dreamed to go. Museum outreach programmes are designed to create those dreams and to grow those dreams into personal experiences during the visit to the Museum.
KwaZulu-Natal Museum made five presentations at the Conference, sharing our experiences with colleagues from other museums in the province.
Nelisiwe Manukuza described in her presentation “Using collections to market the KwaZulu-Natal Museum”, how the KwaZulu-Natal Museum “takes the museum to the people” through educational outreach programmes, social media, special events, and website articles, in order to promote the Museum, to increase the number of visitors, and to continue to maintain the high standards of one of the leading cultural and scientific institutions in South Africa.
Mandisa Ndlovu, in her presentation “Sustaining the KwaZulu-Natal Museum post the lockdown era”, explained the different approaches to attract visitors by offering them a variety of activities: helping schools in teaching the current curriculum; promoting environmental education; explaining to members of the public the details of everyday work at the Museum, using special events, as well as community outreach programmes.
Siyabonga Zamisa shared his experience on the ways of delivering database information to the public, including the scientific community, in his presentation “The preparedness of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum in dealing with the impact of Covid-19 through using Specify and GBIF platforms”.
Igor Muratov, in his presentation “Database: A Scientific Tool to find Information or an Information Resource?”, explained the risks of an “open access” format to collection databases and the necessity of verification of every record before giving any information to the public.
Phumlani Madonda, in his presentation “Heritage and Power of Promotion: Liberation Heritage in Museums”, showed the importance of collecting objects in documenting the recent history of the liberation movement in South Africa.
Besides the participation at the Conference, some useful fieldwork has been done by the KwaZulu-Natal museum scientists (undertaken during lunch time, in order not to interfere with the Conference Programme) that resulted in six species of terrestrial molluscs recorded in the area of more than 300 square kilometres for the first time. This dry dusty environment, of regularly burned savannah with heavy livestock (cows and goats) impact, is not favoured by terrestrial molluscs. That makes records like these particularly important because they show the ability of some species of snails and slugs to survive even in the areas where one wouldn’t expect to find any of them.
Nelisiwe Manukuza presenting (photo courtesy of the Conference organisers)
Mandisa Ndlovu presenting (photo by N. Manukuza)
One of six species of terrestrial molluscs found in the area with the typical environment shown in the photo below (photos by I. Muratov)
Recreated uMgungundlovu kraal, – the royal capital of the Zulu King Dingane (photos by M. Ndlovu).
Burial place of the King Senzangakhona kaJama, – the father of the following Zulu kings: Sigujana, Shaka, Dingane, and Mpande (photo by M. Ndlovu).