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Local museums collaborate to create safe spaces

Local museums collaborate to create safe spaces

The National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) and the National Museum of Namibia (NMN) have joined forces in a move aimed at fostering safe spaces for Namibian artists and researchers

Together with key stakeholders such as the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN), the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), the University of Namibia (UNAM), the University of Bonn, and the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture (MoEAC) of Namibia, these institutions have announced the unveiling of the “Artistic Research and Communal Knowledge: Reconnecting with Returned Cultural Belongings Exhibition” (ARCK).

Scheduled to open on Thursday11 April at 17:30 at the National Art Gallery of Namibia, the exhibition seeks to illuminate the origins of Namibian material culture.

This groundbreaking initiative is part of the larger Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures Project (CCP, ECF), with funding from the Gerda Henkel Foundation and co-funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

At the core of the CCP, ECF project lies the collaborative research into 23 culturally and historically significant artifacts returned from the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin to Namibia in May 2022, along with the historical collections at the National Museum of Namibia. Through a partnership between contemporary artists, knowledge keepers, and artisans in Namibia, the project aims to develop more equitable ways of sharing knowledge and skills across generations and urban-rural divides.

Five artists, namely Tuauovisioua Katuuo, Keith Vries, Nesindano Namises, Prince Kamaazengi Marenga, and Vitjitua Ndjiharine, worked closely with seven community researchers to reactivate communal knowledge, which includes oral histories and artisanal skills preserved within communities despite colonial suppression and post-independence marginalization.

The artists employed various mediums such as poetry, performance, sculpture, and more, with additional contributions from photographer Willem Vrey and filmmaker Joe Vision Production. Their collaboration aims to address gaps in Namibia’s historiography and cultural heritage resulting from colonization.

The exhibition promises rare insights into the histories of cultural belongings, multimedia showcases, interactive displays, and educational programs including panel discussions and workshops. NMN Senior Curator, Golda Ha-Eiros, and NAGN Chief Curator, Ndeenda Shivute-Nakapunda, express their enthusiasm for curating this enlightening exhibition, which invites visitors to connect with the rich histories underlying each cultural artifact.

The ARCK exhibition will run until 18 May, with free entry, providing a unique opportunity for the public to engage with Namibia’s cultural heritage and the collaborative efforts aimed at its preservation and celebration.


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