Volta Regional Museums- A sleeping beauty
Article: Tim Dzamboe
The Volta Regional Museum, which is one of the outlets of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB), was established in 1973 to collect, preserve and exhibit the material and cultural evidence of the people in the region for the purposes of education, research and entertainment.
The museum remains one of the few tourist attractions in Ho but over the years, it has not been able to perform its role effectively as a result of a number of challenges.
It has, therefore, been underutilized over the stars and has been seen by many as a sleeping beauty.
The Regional Director of GMMB, Mr. Alex Okpei, said management was making frantic efforts to collaborate with individuals, non-environmental organizations and voluntary groups who were interested in the preservation of culture with a view to putting the museum back on its feet.
One of such collaboration took place in February this year when managing Director of Mayflower Guest House in Ho provided paint and other materials for the repainting of shutters, doors and rooms of some of the buildings.
According to Mr. Okpei, the work was executed by a youth group from HO-Anlokordzi, two German volunteers and a German lecturer resident in Ho.
He disclosed that very soon, an association known as “Friends of the Museum” would be formed with an advisory board, to stimulate greater public interest in the activities of museums.
Mr. Okpei hinted that some historical films produced between 1938 and 1962 on the Volta Region and neighbouring Kpalime would be screened to the public and art classes would be held for selected primary school pupils.
In an related development, the international day of museums has been celebrated in Ho with a public lecture on the theme: “Musuems and memory”.
Speaking at the function, the regional Advisor for Culture at the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Accra Cluster Office, Ms Moji Okuribido, advocated that virtues associated with the concept of museums must be tapped by those in governance to enrich their leadership skills.
That, she said, would endear them to task to determine the fate of democratic rule under leadership.
Ms Okuribido, however, cautioned that the power of memory should not be turned into political banter, revival of historical animosities and the institutionalizing of an ideological battle.
“In fact, at their best, museums should attempt to inoculate societies against their baser inclinations such as tribalism, racial intolerance, religious bigotry, terrorism or any kind of undesirable fanatical behavior,” she stressed .
Ms Okuribido also said museums could be explored as space for inter-cultural learning and healing, adding that exhibitions could be organized to convey message of unity and breakdown cultural barriers between ethnic groups by representing the unifying rather than the differentiating factors.
She said using such an approach, museums and other types of cultural institutions could exercise their central educational functions and foster inter-cultural awareness and restore a sense of dignity, especially to minority and marginalized communities.
Ms Okuribido said community-based approach to museum development was one new development that was considered participatory because it viewed the community and its members as active stakeholders and even as having authority over the interpretation of the collections presented rather than as passive subjects of study.
She said it created a genuine interface for the public that advocated community welfare and social cohesion and by so doing, highlighted heritage with the communities constituted as the bearers of that heritage, as well as the forms of knowledge linked to it.
Speaking on the topic: “Care and access to museum collections,” the Deputy Director in charge of national museums, Mr. Raymond Orison Agbo, said preventive and not remedial conservation was the key to care for all collections of the museum.
He said collections needed protection against deterioration. He added that they needed insurance cover to be able to last to serve the needs of many generations to come.
Mr. Agbo said preventive conservation was basic common sense that enabled the caretakers to regulate or adjust identified factors that could cause fast deterioration.
He said more facilities such as crèches, canteens, seats and free admissions on selected days must be considered to attract the public to the museums.
The Deputy Volta regional Minister, Colonel Cyril Necku (rtd), who chaired the function, deplored the low profile museums had enjoyed although they served as the relics of our forefathers that could make the present generation know their origin.
He therefore, urged all and sundry to help in gathering artefacts for the museums.
Daily Graphic Page: 22 Saturday, June 11, 2011