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Law on museums should be enacted

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th March 2008 03:00 AM

EDITOR—In 1908, the first museum was established in East Africa and in 1910 it was officially opened in a small building in the middle of Fort Lugard in old Kampala. By 1939 under the skillful guardianship of Margaret Trowell, it was expanded. Thus, from 1941 to 1952, it was housed at Makerere Uni

EDITOR—In 1908, the first museum was established in East Africa and in 1910 it was officially opened in a small building in the middle of Fort Lugard in old Kampala. By 1939 under the skillful guardianship of Margaret Trowell, it was expanded. Thus, from 1941 to 1952, it was housed at Makerere University.

From 1954, it took its current home in a purpose-built museum building at Kitante Hill some two miles from the city centre. The Uganda Museum was built primarily to showcase Uganda, its culture and history to the world. In 1961, the museum received over 50,000 visitors.

In 1962, it held 13 temporary exhibitions and in 1963, it drew huge crowds of up to 123,000 visitors in three weeks. In 1970, the number rose to 150,000. By 1971, it could host up to 21 exhibitions annually, and was also active in archeological excavations. Also in 1963, the Uganda Museum organised large numbers of school parties and community outreach programmes.

Regrettably, very little is known about the museum’s role in our society today. All its roles in education, research, information dissemination, exhibition, entertainment, promoting heritage and cultural tourism have been neglected!

The political, economic, social and cultural changes that have been happening in our society are not recorded and therefore not reflected in the museum.

And the new craft shop structures erected behind the museum building will not resolve the dilemma it currently faces. For Uganda to claim its place as a destination for tourists, much needs to be done in revitalising its cultural industries like museums and national theatres, craft shops and curios. Uganda could possibly borrow a leaf from Kenya and South Africa which have made great strides in these sectors.

The long- awaited cultural policy should be enacted into law and the museum should be made a semi-autonomous authority. A heritage Bill should be formulated to create room for private museums and also to provide for the sound management and governance of museums in Uganda.

Ellady Muyambi
Executive Director,
Historic Buildings Conservation Trust

Law on museums should be enacted

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