Rwanda: Day 5

We met in the morning and made our way back to the Ethnographical museum to meet with staff, this was Anette and Jack’s first look at the museum so whilst they had a tour I took the opportunity to sample the shop which was excellent with lots of crafts and jewellery made at the training centre on site.

Meantime Guido was giving a presentation to the staff about his museum and the work he does in the whole of Africa in particular the Congo. Guido had been meant to fly there the following day but when Kenya Airways cancels all flights to the Congo you know it is probably not a good time to visit.

We all joined him and met about twenty-two of the museum staff, I was impressed by how many came considering how late most of them had been working at the event the night before.

We introduced ourselves and told them a little bit about our work and then we went round the room and asking everybody about their work.  To get things started I then asked each of them to tell me one priority they had for the future of the museum and I scribbled down their answers which were all fantastic. They ranged from wanting policies and standards in place to digitising the collections, to more education outreach programs and wanting the whole world to know about culture in Rwanda.  They were an incredibly inspiring group of people full of energy and ideas that I felt I could learn a lot from.

I then explained a little about the work of MGS and about our museums.  In advance of my visit I had asked our museums to send samples of things they sell in their shops with logos on.  I had a great response and was able to bring out samples from 13 different Scottish museums which I put into the middle of the group telling them a little bit about each of the museums.  These gifts went down very well although I had to explain what a few of the more oddly shaped erasers were!

The donors were: Dingwall Museum, Eyemouth Museum, National Mining Museum Scotland, Bute Museum, Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum, Dundee Heritage Trust, Trimontium Museum, Orkney Museums & Heritage, Auchindrain, Highland Folk Museum, The Gordon Highlanders’ Museum, Dunblane Museum and the British Golf Museum.

 If any museums are interested in further developing a partnership with INMR they are keen to hear more from you.

After this we went for lunch with a group that included some key museum staff: Alice Uwimana, Karine Urusaro (a former Miss Rwanda), Isdore Ndikumana, Jackie Kanda, Jerome Karangwa and Gabriel we Kayonga (who had trained in Scotland) Bashana also joined us. We were able to talk further and then had a tour of Huye which is also the first University town in Rwanda. The town is about to undergo major changes with whole 1930’s streets earmarked for demolition and rebuild in the name of progress.  The museum staff are acutely aware of the need to try and document some of these changes and were struggling to keep pace.  For instance a two year nationwide scheme has recently been completed to re roof every grass roof with either tiles or corrugated iron and the museum did not have the resources to record this change.  On walking through the town both Anette and I suggested a project to document the changing streetscapes. Anette suggested documentary film making, I suggested a mobile phone project with people uploading their own pictures.  Jackie our guide from the museum was very enthused and also full of ideas along with Gabriel, they just need to partner with some organisations that have done this type of project perhaps RCAHMS or Brooklyn Museum?

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