On 18 May 2019 the National Museum opened up some of its collections to the public for a behind the scenes visit. This was done to celebrate International Museum Day; a day organised by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) to raise awareness on the importance of museums and the roles they play in the development of society and culture. This day has been celebrated since 1977. The theme set for 2019 was “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The future of tradition.”
The role of museums in society is ever-changing. Museums keep reinventing themselves in their quest to become more interactive, audience-focused, community-oriented, flexible, adaptable and mobile. They have become cultural hubs, functioning as platforms where creativity combines with knowledge and where visitors can also co-create, share and interact. It is in this spirit that we invited the community to come and experience the National Museum and some of its very bright minds in a way that the public seldom get the opportunity to do.
Approximately 65 visitors attended the event starting with a tour of the arachnology, rock art, archaeology, and collections departments. They were received by researchers who taught them about their various disciplines and how they practice them in the museum environment. Visitors could interact with specimens and artefacts by studying and handling objects such as stone tools, specialised cleaning apparatus, live tarantulas and pottery sherds. They were encouraged to discuss the practices,research, and knowledge of the scientists in order to gain insight into the everyday workings of museums and their cultural significance.
After the tour, visitors were treated to light snacks in the tearoom where they could continue conversations with the friendly museum staff.
The day was concluded in the museum’s restaurant with two popular lectures by Dr Jennifer Botha-Brink and Dr Lloyd Rossouw on palaeontology and archaeology.
In total 17 staff members helped to facilitate this event. It was a fun day for which many visitors expressed their appreciation.
We at the National Museum would like to thank the wonderfully curious people who spent the day with us, discussing our various fields of expertise, and allowing us to share our passions and knowledge with you. We hope to see you again next year!
For more information of this yearly event visit https://icom.museum/en/activities/events/international-museum-day/