South Africa: MEC Anroux Marais Commemorates International Museum Day in Ceres

press release

As we commemorate International Museum Day tomorrow, 18 May 2021, Minister Anroux Marais donated books from her personal collection to the Togryers Museum in Ceres this afternoon.

Earlier this month, the Togryers Museum started a Book Exchange Library which allows visitors to bring a book and exchange it for another free of charge. As some of the books received are dated, Minister Marais donated some newer editions of reading material to increase the options available at the new Book Exchange Library.

In commemoration of International Museum Day, we remain mindful that affiliated museums play a crucial role in showcasing our diverse heritage landscape and promoting social inclusion in the province.

The unprecedented actions taken to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the complete closure of museums for close to 5 months during hard lockdown last year. During this time, museums lost significant amounts in revenue with each passing day. However, museums in the Western Cape rose to the challenge as far as possible and entered the virtual space of publicly accessible, timed, online exhibitions and events which was new territory for many of them. While these online exhibitions and events ensured that the public still had access to the museums during lockdown and positioned the museums well for visitors during the recovery phase of the pandemic, it did not take care of the lost opportunities in revenue from people visiting museums via entrance fees. In order to ensure that museums in the Western Cape were able to access relief funding for the loss of revenue the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport availed COVID-19 Relief Funding for museums to the value of R1, 3 million in 2020/2021, of which 19 museums across the province successfully applied, including non-affiliated museums such as the District Six Museum.

In 2021/2022 the department made available R6, 5 million towards annual subsidies for Province-aided Museums and R393 000 towards annual grant-in-aid for Local Museums. These contributions will ensure that affiliated museums remain open to the public despite the economic devastation resulted from the COVID-19 lockdown. In addition, to create an enabling environment to reduce unemployment, R3. 6 million of the provincial equitable share is allocated towards the creation of EPWP job opportunities at affiliated museums across the province.

Our Human Remains Reburial Programme has gained great momentum as it is a significant series of reburials of human remains that are in museums affiliated to the Department. In our departmental Guidelines for the Management and Reinterment of Human Remains and Associated Archaeological Remains, the preamble emphasises that museums are not appropriate institutions to hold human remains whether archaeological of historical. Regardless of how these were acquired, where such exists, proactive steps must be undertaken to ensure the deaccessioning where they are in collection and reburial of human remains. Aligned to these guidelines, we are now regulating our museums by handing over the remains to community representatives to be buried with the dignity and respect it deserves. This year, the department will ensure that human remains situated at Genadendal Museum is accordingly buried with dignity.

Minister Marais said, "In celebration of International Museum Day, the Museum Service of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport should be commended as they diligently serve to promote respect for cultural diversity in South Africa and appreciation of our natural heritage. We wholeheartedly thank our Museum Service for creating the enabling environment needed to build understanding and pride of our diverse heritage through the affiliated museums by developing and promoting collections, exhibitions and programmes for educational purposes and public interest".

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