Museums are Transformed

  • Joy Hendry


The words quoted above were spoken by George Abungu, then Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, as part of a keynote speech on Changing Audiences of Museums in Africa, delivered at a conference held in Tanzania, in April 2002. The gathering brought together scholars from around the world, with a good number of Africans who had done research among their own peoples. The program had been carefully designed to distribute the roles—paper-giving, commentating, and chairing—between ‘insiders’, or people Native to Africa, and ‘outsiders’, non-African scholars who had worked there or elsewhere. The content and quality of the papers was uneven, but the discussions were exciting, and during the comments on the speech of Dr. Abungu, who had been describing the way his own museum in Nairobi was opening up to local people, a member of the audience became quite upset. He was African, though not from Kenya, and he was vehement about how much he hated museums: “when I see a drum on a wall, I want to tear it down and bang it,” he cried, loudly. Dr. Abungu was patient with him, and tried again to explain some of the ways in which he and other museum directors were working to make their museums relevant to their local African public, but his critic was not to be silenced, and he grew increasingly irate. It fell to me, as chair, to find a solution, and as it was the last paper of the day, and late enough to close the proceedings, I chose an easy option and proposed that we continue the debate over supper.


Local People Indigenous People National Museum Human Remains Museum Visitor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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References And Further Readings

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Copyright information

© Joy Hendry 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joy Hendry

There are no affiliations available

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