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National Museum in multi-million pula facelift

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
Kereng said the permanent exhibition project’s major development phase would propel the museum into the future and beyond PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The Department of National Museum and Monuments (DNMM) has commenced the construction of its multi-million pula permanent exhibition in Gaborone.

The project, anticipated to cost P33 million, is expected to be complete by mid-2021.

This was revealed this week during the groundbreaking ceremony held at the department’s headquarters in Gaborone.

The turnkey project will redesign the outmoded displays built over the last 50 years and introduce a modern multi-sensory exhibition with multimedia.

An extensive research is being conducted in order to inform the new exhibition content which will address topical issues in Botswana including environment, climate change, biodiversity, politics, culture, history and economy. The refurbished permanent exhibition will incorporate existing dioramas, exhibits and the abundant national heritage collections that the department is in custody of. 

The long overdue project that is being done by a citizen consortium of HL&L Architects and Motaki (Pty) Ltd started with the design phase in April 2019.  The second phase, which includes gallery modification, exhibition installation and additional structures, is a development that will give a facelift to the National Museum façade, with an additional gallery floor and new visitor facilities including a refurbished reception, library and galleries, a modern restaurant and a redesigned indigenous garden.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng said the permanent exhibition  project’s major development phase would propel the museum into the future and beyond.   She said it was only appropriate that the 50-year-old permanent exhibition is being revamped now to respond to the needs of the current visitor. Kereng added that the facility would be a place of learning, leisure and a first port of call for

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special visitors, tourists and all Batswana.  “I am sure with the artistic impressions that we have seen, the refurbished museum will change the cityscape and transform Gaborone into a cosmopolitan metropolis,” he said. 

Kereng said her ministry would continue with such efforts in the diversification of the economy in line with the government transformation agenda. She added that projects such as this one only seek to fulfill that promise to Batswana.

“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 complete,” she highlighted.

Kereng also paid homage to the founding director of the National Museum and Monuments, Alec Campbell who pioneered the establishment of the museum concept in Botswana.

“As government, we are 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 revitalisation of the mall,” she said.  The department’s acting director, Stephen Mogotsi said the project goes as far back as the National Development Plan 9.

“It was necessary to do because four-year-old exhibitions have already started to show signs of wear and tear and need updating and renovation.  The span of a permanent exhibition is normally between 20 and 30 years.

The last permanent exhibition was 40 years-old so they had actually grown beyond the lifespan,” he said.  He said traditionally, museums are playing the role of research and educational institutions as collectors and guardians of cultural and natural heritage.



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