Refurbished museum to transform Gabs into cosmopolitan metropolis
- Facility to be a place of learning, leisure for special visitors and tourists
- Face lift to be carried out by a citizen consortium
- Project scheduled for completion in mid-2021
After its permanent galleries and reception facilities were refurbished according to designs commissioned in April 2019, the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery in Gaborone witnessed the beginning of a major development phase that will propel it into the future and beyond.
Construction of a new permanent exhibition will include modification of gallery spaces, installation of modern and multimedia exhibition props, a themed garden and a modern restaurant that are scheduled for completion in mid-2021.
“It is only appropriate that the 50-year old permanent exhibition is being revamped now to respond to the needs of the current visitor,” said the Minister of the Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng, at the launch of the refurbishment programme.
“The new exhibition will feature multimedia displays that address topical environmental, historical and socio-economic issues in Botswana. The facility will definitely be a place of learning, leisure and the first port of call for our special visitors, tourists and all Batswana. The refurbished museum will change the cityscape and transform Gaborone into a cosmopolitan metropolis.”
The permanent exhibition aims to showcase the history of the country and highlight the evolution of the people’s way of life over time and the future due to globalisation . Extensive research is being conducted in order to inform content of the new exhibition that will address topical issues in Botswana, including the environment, climate change, biodiversity, politics, culture, history and the economy.
As much as possible, the refurbished permanent exhibition will incorporate existing dioramas, exhibits and the museum’s abundant national heritage collection that the department is in the custodian of. The long overdue project will be carried out by a citizen consortium of H&L Architects and Motaki (Pty) Ltd who started with the design phase in April 2019.
“The project is expected to redefine who we are as a nation, create jobs during and after construction, and most importantly, boost tourism in Botswana when completed. We are now putting up a facility that will position the museum to receive visitors and become a melting pot of culture and heritage and contribute to the revitalization of the mall,” said Minister Kereng
The idea of establishing the museum emerged in 1966 when Botswana was about to attain its independence. The founder of the institution, Alec Campbell, wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs suggesting that plans should be made to start a museum. He was given the go ahead and in September that year an appeal was launched and monetary presents received from Anglo American Corporation and Standard Bank, as well as individual Batswana.
In 1974, Campbell was appointed the Director of the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery. The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs also appointed a board to run the institution whose chairman was Kgosi Bathoen II of BaNgawaketse. The building of the first galleries started in July 1967. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the museum had become a hub of cultural and artistic expression.
At the end of the 50-year journey, with its ups and downs, the department looks back with pride, marveling at the fact that at this point in history it has a staff complement of 140, three satellite offices in Maun, Francistown and Kanye, as well as two world heritage sites and access to over 100 heritage sites around the country, contributing to tourism growth and economic development.