In the past four weeks, I have noticed the important role that museums play in supporting democratic societies. Now that I have started working as an intern at the Iziko Museums (Social History Centre), I have noticed even more about the support these centers play in South Africa’s community.
As South Africa’s society evolves and changes, so do the representing museums. The museums can and have faced controversies over certain exhibits that present misleading or offensive representation of different races/ethnicities. As society changes, the museums must change and alter their perspectives as well. With racism and poverty still at the forefront of South Africa’s society, the museums must handle the history in a way that properly reflects the society’s past and present issues.
During the course of the trip, my group and other community leaders have spoke about the importance of the museum-society connection. I have heard many young individuals speak about their want to learn about their ancestors and their history; the museums are trying to break down the boring stereotype and attract the hardest audience to the centers: the youth.
The Iziko staff is extremely passionate for South African history and they want that knowledge to be spread to all communities. Iziko is determined to bring history to the people, since many people cannot come to see it themselves. The staff takes the mobile museum to impoverished communities to share artifacts that explores South Africa’s history. These types of community outreach programs spread knowledge and awareness of history and art, bringing about social change. The museums are useful places for social change through their brilliant exhibits, community events, and public/youth programming. Spreading knowledge and history to the community will inspire individuals to learn and connect with South Africa.