The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness about the fact that museum are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among the people.
The International Museum Day gives chance for professionals of museums to meet people and inform them about the challenges museums face.
The event always highlights a theme that keeps changing each year that’s at the heart of the preoccupations of the international museum community. This year’s theme is “Museum for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”.
With this theme the International Museum Day 2020 aims at becoming a rallying point to both celebrates the diversity of perspective that make up the communities and personnel of museums and champions tools for identifying and overcoming bias in what they display and the stories they tell.
The celebrations are organised on May 18, every year and events and activities planned to celebrate the day can last for a day, a weekend or entire week.
More and more museums across the globe take part in celebrating this important day.
According to the International Council of Museum (ICOM), more than 37,000 museums participated to celebrate International Museum Day last year in about 158 countries and territories.
This year 2020 the story is different because of the outbreak of Covid-19 in the world. The disease is causing widespread anxiety and quarantine measures in different countries around the world. People are staying home to limit the spread of the illness and venues that normally draw large crowds including museums have shut their doors.
While thousands of museums in the world closed down because of Civid-19, Tanzania museums are open to the public to execute its legal duties to acquire, conserve, research, communicate and exhibit the humanity tangible and intangible heritage plus its environment for enjoyment, study and education purposes.
These duties of promoting Tanzania’s cultural and natural heritages are done with a lot of health precaution as directed by the Government through the Ministry of Health, Community Development, and Gender, Elderly and Children and that of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Some of those health measures are washing hands with soap and running water and if you do not have water use sanitizers, wearing masks and social distancing.
The National Museum of Tanzania like other Museums in the world having working hard to make sure that despite the corona pandemic museum stakeholders and audience have access to museum products and exhibition though the use of digital media including social media.
As part of the celebration of World Museum Day, the National Museum launched video clip titled: “Makumbusho Salama” (Safe Museum).
The launching was held at the Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam with the aim of sending a message to the public that visiting a museum is safe despite of the Covid-19.
According to the clip that was live in the social media and some media outlet any person visiting the museum in Tanzania will have to put on mask, wash hands with running water stationed at the entrance of the museum.
Speaking at the launching the Director General of the National Museum of Tanzania, Dr Noel Lwoga assured tourists and Tanzanians who wish to visit the museums that they are safe because all precautions are taken on board. The National Museum of Tanzania plans to have more and more online products and exhibition so as to reach the wide range of museum stakeholders including those who are outside Tanzania.
“Our plan is to ensure that even people who are not able to visit the museum in Tanzania can visit wherever they are,” Dr Lwoga says.
According to Dr Lwoga, the digitalisation of museum products represents a great opportunity for heritage promotion and extension of relationship with visitors beyond the museum some of who are longer able to move because of age and vicinity.
“We believe, with improvement of our digital platforms that include website and social media—instagram, twitter, and facebook we stand to win more audience to our museums,” he says.
The village Museum organised an exhibition on traditional medicine as part of the International Museum Day celebration with the aim of awareness creation of what villagers used before the hospitals were built in different rural areas. Community members from Makonde and Fipa tribes demonstrated what types of leaves were used and the entire process.
The Village Museum Director, Dr Gwakisa Kamatula underscored the importance of diversity and community inclusion in the museum operations. The Village Museum has a rich natural and culture assets because apart from traditional houses of different tribes, the village has vast land of over five acres of forest with different types of leaves and trees.
“With this exhibition we are showing people on what plants and leave can be used to cure different illness,” he says.
Biology Conservator at the museum, Agness Robert says traditional medicine has many benefits and has long history in Tanzania.
“Some of the plants used for steaming therapy has health nutrients and when used give relief to the patients.
“The village museum has a number of medicinal plants that could be used to cure different illness,” she says.
Mary Mangazine from Fipa tribe who was invited specifically for the steaming therapy exhibition say in the past there were no hospitals but were getting sick and treated with traditional medicine. She says a number medicinal plants were used to cure by steaming therapy and drinking.
Despite firing the warning shot, the health watchdog said it recognizes that traditional medicine has many benefits, and Africa has a long history of traditional medicine.
It also said that medicinal plants such as artemisia are being considered as possible treatments for COVID-19 but first need to be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects.