Museums Association of Namibia

  • 23 September 2023

Johannes Willibard

The Museums Association of Namibia, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, was able to facilitate and host the 33rd Annual General Meeting Conference and Capacity Building Workshops from 28 August to 5 September 2023.

Participants included representatives from museums, cultural villages, art galleries, libraries, archives, heritage sites, companies and individuals who are passionate about heritage, art and culture. The Namibia Scientific Society as an institution and associated member also sent some of its staff to attend this conference.

The workshop was facilitated by the Director and Museum Development Officer, Ndapewoshali Ashipala, and Tuuda Haitula of the Museum Association of Namibia together with other topic-specific guest speakers.

The first week of the conference started with a skills mapping and needs assessment session exercise for Namibian Museum professionals and information practitioners under the theme: The identity of the Namibian Museum.

All workshop participants were asked to present their SWOT Analysis, highlighting the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in their organizations or individually. The following points were repeatedly raised:

  • Many institutions are struggling with funding and limited spaces in their respective museums and libraries. E.g. OvaHimba Living Museum, Bwabwata Living Museum, Onandjokwe Medical Museum, Okavango East Museum, Twyfelfontein Damara Living Museum, Zambezi Museum and National Museum of Namibia.
  • More Collaboration opportunities in future endeavours, projects, research or initiatives with fellow participants or organizations are sought.
  • Professional development is needed i.e. opportunities for career growth, certification and becoming specialized within the field.

In the discussions during the week, it was repeatedly said that information often presented at museums was orally sourced but not documented. I invited all participants to visit the Namibia Scientific Society Reference Library, as it was founded close to 100 years ago and has since collected, catalogued and readily made available all possible information related to Namibia, from the past to the present day. Possibly the one or other information could, with our records, be confirmed.

The second week was dedicated to capacity-building workshops.

The following topics were presented by specialists and discussed between all participants:

  • Education on Museum management, governance and ethics 
  • Conservation of Museum Artifacts 
  • Documentation of Museum Artifacts 

Overall, the 33rd Annual General Meeting, Conference and Capacity-building workshops were a great success, as I was able to gain insight into the matter of various museums and their problems. This workshop has empowered me with knowledge enhancement and understanding of new concepts, theories, best practices, and currently emerging technologies related to museums in a broader context. At the same, I got to learn more and understand better the shortcomings of museums and related institutions in Namibia.

The workshop was a success in enlightening participants and to enable further application of their new-found knowledge and skills effectively in their work or profession.

I also gained insights into cultural and historical aspects relevant to the field while making many connections with museum representatives across Namibia.

It is said that “Umbrellas, books and minds only work if they are frequently opened”. With that said, it was a fruitful engagement workshop and an eye-opener.

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