October 30, 2018

South Africa: Sharing knowledge on the conservation of museum collections

Participants discuss the relocation of entire collections in a workshop. Photo by Catherine Snel.

In July, the first phase of a train-the-trainer programme in the field of heritage conservation, management and archiving took place in Durban, South Africa.

Expand and spread knowledge
The programme took place from 16-19 July at the KwaMuhle Museum in Durban. It consisted of the exchange of knowledge between four trainers from the Netherlands and eighteen museum professionals and trainees from different institutions in South Africa who specialise in conservation, collection management and archiving. The aim was to expand the professionals’ network and spread knowledge throughout South Africa. The training met with positive feedback. For example, Mary Minicka, Head of Preservation at the Western Cape Archives, explained that the discussions and presentations have challenged her to look anew at the use of records at the archives. Five more sessions will follow over the next three years, covering different materials like paper, metal, wood and mixed media such as beads, leather and textiles.

Train the trainers
The idea for the programme came about in 2016 when a group of trainers from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Rijksmuseum organised a training on preventive conservation in Pretoria and Stellenbosch. Because of the enthusiasm of the trainees, a plan was developed with the South African Museum Association to make the trainings more sustainable, by training people in South Africa to train others in the specific field of preventive and active conservation.