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Uganda Museum gets sh500m conservation grant

By Ronald Mugabe

Added 24th July 2019 11:05 AM

In an announcement made by the Foundation last week, the Uganda Museum is among the 10 significant buildings of the 20th century that were deemed fit to be supported in the 2019 edition of the initiative that has run since 2014.

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Uganda Museum. Photo/File

In an announcement made by the Foundation last week, the Uganda Museum is among the 10 significant buildings of the 20th century that were deemed fit to be supported in the 2019 edition of the initiative that has run since 2014.

KAMPALA - The Uganda Museum has been awarded a significant grant aimed at its conservation. The grant amounting to $135,000 (aboutsh500m) was awarded by the Getty Foundation through its Keeping It Modern initiative.

In an announcement made by the Foundation last week, the Uganda Museum is among the 10 significant buildings of the 20th century that were deemed fit to be supported in the 2019 edition of the initiative that has run since 2014.

One of the major reasons highlighted for the support was the absence of national heritage protection laws which threatens its existence yet it’s so iconic in the history of Uganda. “The real estate development pressures and the lack of national heritage protection laws mean the museum and other historic buildings face mounting threats. Over time, the structure has also suffered from cracks in the concrete frame and moisture infiltration due to the groundwater below the foundation,” read the foundation’s statement.

Through this grant, Getty-funded experts will prepare a conservation management plan that includes investigations into the original construction materials and the current structural safety of the building.

Designed by Ernst May, a German-born pioneer of urban planning who worked in Africa for two decades after being forced into exile when the Nazis seized power, the Uganda Museum at the time of its construction in 1954 formed part of a larger expansion plan for the fast-growing capital city, Kampala.

“As the first modern building in Uganda and one of the earliest cast-in-place concrete structures in Kampala, the museum influenced the design of other government and institutional buildings throughout the country. While May included elements of international style modernism for the museum such as flat roofing sections, horizontal rows of windows, a cantilevered entry canopy, and polished concrete floors, he also demonstrated a sensitivity to the local environment by adding perforated partitions for cooling airflow and angled walls that produce diffuse interior lighting,” read the statement explaining why the museum was awarded the grant.

It added that 65 years after it was built, the museum remains a popular landmark for international tourists and local residents and survives today as the last intact work of May’s sizeable oeuvre in the country.

The other nine buildings to receive the funding include the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, Torino Esposizioni in Italy, Beira Railway Station in Mozambique and the Villa E-1027 in France.

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