The commitment to renovate public museums must be maintained
The intention of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) to renovate the nine recognized public museums scattered across the country is a healthy signal that is long overdue.
It is gratifying to note that work has already begun on some of the facilities through structural renovation, improved gallery outlook and increased collections in some museums.
Considering the importance of museums in our national development effort and agenda, we cannot underestimate their importance. Besides serving as collection points for the nation’s artifacts, history, behaviors and way of life, museums generate jobs and contribute to the growth of local economies.
When tourists visit a well-endowed museum, a lot of revenue is generated. Museums also play an important role in educating the public about art, history, culture, and science, among others.
All museums display objects that are important to a culture.
One historian, Steven Conn, writes, “Seeing the thing itself, with your own eyes and in a public place, surrounded by others with some version of the same experience, can be enchanting.”
In his book entitled: “Do museums still need objects? Conn also points out, “We live in the age of museums”, and that indeed, at the turn of the 21st century, more people were visiting museums than ever before, as museums had proliferated across the cultural landscape even as older ones had undergone transformational additions.
But it is such a pity that in Ghana we have not fully exploited the benefits of our museums. It’s even more depressing when you think of one of these iconic museums – the Museum of Science and Technology (MST), located in the heart of Accra at the Barnes Road-Liberia Road intersection.
This particular museum was started in 1963, and it wasn’t until Tuesday, February 15, 2022, that it was used for a permanent gallery display.
Previously, temporary exhibitions were organized at the MST by various individuals, groups and institutions, such as Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and ACCRA.[dot]ALT, organizers of the Chale Wote Street Art Festival.
Prior to this, the historic building was a haven for squatters and social vagabonds. Many more of these iconic facilities across the country are in deplorable condition.
The Upper East Regional Museum in Bolgatanga, for example, is in urgent need of attention. This museum, we are told, needs to be expanded because its eight-room building is woefully insufficient to fulfill its purpose.
Although the renovation of the facility has been completed since November 9, 2021, consideration will have to be given to expanding it, as the lack of space has created inconvenience for museum staff, as they have to squeeze through part of the building. to create space for the gallery and the documentary rooms to serve their respective purposes.
Another challenge is that the number of staff is insufficient as there are currently six employees looking after the installation, instead of the required 20, a development which has placed undue pressure on the few employees in their attempt to make the installation viable.
It is hoped that the authorization given to the GMMB by the government to employ 50 people from various professional backgrounds will help to further increase the staff of the museum.
We are convinced that the managers of our museums know what is best to make our facilities globally competitive. They know what it takes to make our museums must-see places of interest. Unfortunately, it has taken us too long to position museums to be globally competitive.
Now is the time to pull ourselves together and rehabilitate our museums, so that they can play the necessary role in our development agenda.
It is for this reason that we at the Daily Graphic welcome the commitment to rehabilitate the nine iconic museums – the National Museum located along Barnes Road and the MST, both in Adabraka, and the Museum of Slavery Ussher Fort (Fort Crèvecœur) in James Town, all in Accra; the Upper East Regional Museum in Bolgatanga, the Cape Coast Castle and Elmina St George’s Castle Museums in the Central Region; the San Antonio and Fort Apollonia museums in Axim and Benyin, respectively, both in the Western Region, and the Volta Regional Museum in Ho.
We will track the commitment and report accordingly as each museum is rehabilitated. It is a must and we cannot afford to fail the nation.