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MUSEUMS AND POLITICS “THE CASE OF THE LIVINGSTONE MUSEUM, LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA INTERCOM CONFERENCE, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK 13 TO 16 SEPTEMBER, 2011 Funase Chitsulo Assistant Education Officer Livingstone Museum. WHERE IS ZAMBIA IN AFRICA?. THE LIVINGSTONE MUSEUM.

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MUSEUMS AND POLITICS

“THE CASE OF THE LIVINGSTONE MUSEUM, LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA

INTERCOM CONFERENCE, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

13 TO 16 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Funase Chitsulo

Assistant Education Officer

Livingstone Museum

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THE LIVINGSTONE

MUSEUM

  • One of the four national museums
  • The oldest and biggest national museum
  • Established in 1934
  • Multidiscipline with two main research departments (Humanities and Social Sciences, and Natural History).
  • Currently with a workforce of 43 employees
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INTRODUCTION

  • According to ICOM definition, a museum is a non-profit making, permanent institution, in the service of society and its development, and open to the public, which acquires, researches, communicates and exhibits for the purpose of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of man and his environment
  • Politics is the struggle for power to control the nation’s economy (resources)
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In most cases national resources are scarce resulting into political activities.

  • A political activity is a universal phenomenon involving disagreements and the reconciliation of those disagreements.
  • Museums play a major role in the cultural and economic life and well being of the nation.
  • Museums provide a valuable sense of connection with the past and present, they
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as future spring board.

  • Ambrose, T. et al., (1993) states that, “without our memory we cannot go forward.
  • Professional and political resolution needs to be found to the issues affecting smooth operations of museums, though the situation varies from country to country
reflection on the livingstone museum
REFLECTION ON THE LIVINGSTONE MUSEUM
  • The idea of establishing the museum was initiated by Sir. Moffat Thompson the then secretary of native affairs in the 1930s.
  • Then in 1934 the Livingstone museum was opened.
  • During its formative years, the museum had two main objectives:-
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To collect and preserve the material culture of the various ethnic groups for study;

  • To provide the colonial government with information concerning the people under their rule.
  • The government then, was interested on the development of the museum .
  • The strong political interest created an advantage for the museum in that, country wide collections were made through the
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apparatus of the state.

  • Budget provisions for collections were made by the district commissioners and sent to the office of the Territorial Governor
  • The second objective of the museum led to the creation of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute of African Studies as part of the museum.
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The Institute was to spearhead social anthropological research in the country.

  • During this period, support to the museum was anchored in the highest political office in the land.
  • The Governor of Northern Rhodesia was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and so disputed the relatively low appreciation of the institution among the members of the Legislative Council.
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The Governor of Northern Rhodesia was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and so disputed the relatively low appreciation of the institution among the members of the Legislative Council.

  • The museum enjoyed fairly strong government support, funding came through.
  • Its development was also supported by commercial enterprises operating in the territory then due to its strong political leaning.
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The museum achieved recognition as a research institution.

  • In the 1960s the museum had to redesign its exhibition policy due to a sudden change in the political environment.
  • Most of the displays were re-worked to communicate the country’s political philosophy unity as underpinned by the slogan “One Zambia One Nation.”
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The ethnography exhibition in particular tried to bring out the commonalities between the different ethnic groups in the country.

  • During this time, the President of Zambia was the Patron of the museum which gave the museum an advantage in its resource mobilization efforts.
  • This favoured position lasted until the 1990s when there was a change in government.
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The new government did not pay as much attention to the museums

  • Government funding to museums dwindled in relative terms, leaving the museums heavily indebted.
  • Today, the museum continues to take part in greater public issues that vitally affect the lives of the people in the country.
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In 2003, the museum had an occasion to change its permanent exhibitions.

  • The ethnography exhibition was recast to show trends in the evolution of society.
  • Apart from the permanent exhibitions, the museum has from time to time put up temporary exhibitions on topical issues such as Climate Change, Human Rights, War, National Politics, Governance, HIV and AIDS, Deforestation and Loss of Biodiversity.
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Government funding to museums dwindled in relative terms, leaving the museums heavily indebted.

  • Today, the museum continues to take part in greater public issues that vitally affect the lives of the people in the country.
  • The History gallery presents a historical political narrative from pre-colonial Zambia through to 2001.
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The gallery gives a critical commentary on the challenges that faced the country at every stage, a presentation which has been described as “very bold” by many historians and public figures.

  • CONCLUSION
  • Museums are public institutions serving the people and therefore need to be part of the political world.
  • THANK YOU
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SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO:-

  • THE INTERCOM ORGANISING COMMITTEE
  • THE GETTY FOUNDATION
  • THE LIVINGSTONE MUSEUM