MuseumFutures Africa is a people-centered cultural project focussed on museums. It began with a focus on Africa, and expanded its reach to museums across the Global South, with the intention to test, explore and study potentials for new formats of Southern museology.

Study Groups
Arna Jharna Thar Desert Museum
The Conflictorium
Mutare Museum
MajiMaji Museum
Acervo de Laje
Museu Mafalala
Exchanges 2023
Musée National de Guinée
National Museums of Kenya
Steve Biko Centre
Uganda Museum
Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art
Musée Théodore Monod
Exchanges 2021-2
Towards a depiction of ... the experimental / colonial museum
MFA publication 2022
Curriculum 2023
Curriculum 2021
Notes toward a proposal

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MuseumFutures is supported by the     Goethe-Institut

Study Groups

Museum Futures Southern Museology’s aimed to nurture an imaginative collective process driven by 6 different museums in Africa, India and Brazil. Scroll down or use the menu for an overview of each museum, some of their core institutional concerns, their study groups, and a custom illustration by Kampala-based artist Charity Atukunda.

Arna Jharna: Thar Desert Museum

Illustration by Charity Atukunda, 2023.
Arna Jharna: The Thar Desert Museum was established in 2000 and was envisioned by Komal Kothari, a renowned folklorist and ethnomusicologist, to exhibit and bring about public engagement with the folk culture and oral traditions he had spent his life documenting in Rajasthan, India. Kothari waited until he found the perfect spot, Arna Jharna (‘forest and spring’), in the village of Moklawas, about 15 kilometres from Jodhpur city. The Arna Jharna Thar Desert Museum, perching upon the edge of the Aravali Mountain range as it descends to the plain of the Thar desert, highlights the beauty of the geographical diversity of Rajasthan. The 10 acres of the museum site is surrounded by protected forest areas, sacred spots and waterbodies, and is a haven for desert flora and fauna. In keeping with Kothari’s vision for a ‘living museum’, apart from the collection, all aspects of biodiversity, geology and water-harvesting associated with the museum site are part of an interactive learning process—the outside and inside of the museum are interrelated. Marked by a devotion to the natural and organic resources of Rajasthan, the museum pays tribute to the local communities and their local foundations of knowledge, art and culture, which is not a thing of the past, but a resource for rebuilding the present.

The study group of the Arna Jharna museum worked towards an exhibition about regionally specific pottery. The impetus for this project came out of community consultations and research by the study group. The study group consists of the head of the museum and numerous young researchers as well as local villagers. Study group member Kritika Rathore shared the following compelling insights that emerged from the fieldwork: “Arna Jharna Museum delves into the traditional lifestyles of rural Rajasthani communities and their deep connection with the natural environment. Collaborating with various occupational groups, including musicians, puppeteers, broom makers, and potters, we aim to understand their art and adaptability in response to changing circumstances”.

Study group members
Mr. Kuldeep Kothari Project Head and head of the museum, Mr. Kuldeep Singh Project Assistant, Archivist and research manager, Mr. Rajendra Jain Project Accounts Manager
Ms. Shreya Jaiswal Research Assistant and Curator (background in English Literature and Anthropology), Ms. Kritika Rathore Research Assistant and Curator (background in Literature and publishing), Ms. Lakshita Chahar Research Assistant (background in History)
Mr. Narpat Singh Rathore Museum Caretaker, Mr. Durga Ram Devasi Museum Assistant, Gomati Devi Museum Assistant, Mr. Bheru Lal Pottery maker, Mr. Razak Khan Pottery maker, Mr. Jeetu Koli Broom maker, Mr. Prem Bhat & his son Mr. Suresh Bhat Puppet maker and player, Mr. Safi Khan Langa Folk Musician

The Conflictorium, Museum of Conflict

Illustration by Charity Atukunda, 2023.
In an increasingly polarized world, existing in binaries, where conscious division on the basis of identity has become the norm, the Conflictorium stands for the in-between, beyond the black and white, where the shades of grey are acknowledged and celebrated for the cause of peace. In doing so, we at the Conflictorium envision ourselves as a medium that helps build bridges creatively; highlighting how social change is possible through innovation.
Through this, we aim to:

  • Contemporize the discourse on conflict by promoting acceptance of conflict as necessary to human refinement and promoting dialogue on contentious issues.
  • Be a resource centre on ‘peace and conflict’ using art, law, culture and the behavioral sciences in an integrated way.
  • Add existing knowledge on conflict and build new paradigms, while giving space to expression of innate feelings.
  • Collaborate with all actors to reduce violent tension and to find creative community-led solutions to conflict.
  • Build a case for informed policy which allows for community expression through artistic and cultural practice.
  • Support vulnerable groups to set up a ‘Conflictorium’ in their own spaces, so that violence is reduced and differences are celebrated.
  • Build an interdisciplinary team of young, creative and diverse professionals who want to make a difference to themselves and to others.
  • Start making a difference from where we are located. The centre-periphery tensions need to be nurtured.
  • Create a Co-laboratory where people and institutions who want to invest in peace and creative tension are welcome.

Through the course of the year the study group (working in both the Ahmedabad and Raipur chapters of the Conflictorium) undertook a series of intra-team workshops to address needs for organisational consciousness building along with skill and capacity development. In addition, (in the interest of building a basis of shared creative and cultural experiences across two cities), the team made a collective trip to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2023 - an international exhibition of contemporary art held in the city of Kochi in Kerala, India and also the International Theater Festival of Kerala. As an independent museum, the Conflictorium has to consistently navigate the complexities of attracting, sustaining and creating funds that support the museum’s work. This involves various levels of communication with stakeholders, audiences and supporters. In the last half of the year, the team dedicated its energies to collective research on the infrastructures of fundraising, and workshopping strategies for sustainability into the future. 
Conflictorium Study group members
Gargi Verma research and programming (Conflictorium Raipur), Samiksha Purohit museum manager(Conflictorium Raipur), Kamini Nag housekeeping (Conflictorium Raipur), Aayush Chandrawanshi project anchor and curator (Conflictorium Raipur), Nayan Rathod museum manager (Conflictorium Ahmedabad), Pravin Soya support staff (Conflictorium Ahmedabad), Ranjeeta Dhosiya housekeeping (Conflictorium Ahmedabad), V divakar curator (Conflictorium Ahmedabad), abhishek kukreja critical thinking educator (Conflictorium Ahmedabad), Akash Dutt, public programming and documentation (Conflictorium Ahmedabad), Vaidehi sadiwala, visual communication, jignesh gajjar technical consultant, jayant Christian technical consultant, ysk prerana artistic director, Avni Sethi and Dhananjay Sinha

Acervo da Laje

Illustration by Charity Atukunda, 2023.
The Acervo da Laje is a space of aesthetic and artistic memory in the peripheries of Salvador, Bahia. It occupies two houses in the neighbourhood of São João do Cabrito, Plataforma, an area long seen as dangerous due to poverty and violence. The story of the Acervo da Laje (“Rooftop” Collection) began in 2011, when educator José Eduardo Ferreira Santos, together with photographer Marco Illuminati, began mapping artists from the area known as Subúrbio Ferroviário for his postdoctoral research. 

Born in this suburb of Salvador, which is distributed into 15 districts that suffer from high rates of violence and disregard by public authorities, the researcher was impressed with the art he saw being made there and decided to bring the works together in a single space. The Acervo da Laje is currently divided between two neighboring houses in the Plataforma district. In addition to books, recordings, newspapers and objects that help tell the community’s story, work by local artists, as well as those from other districts on the city’s periphery, such as Zaca Oliveira, Ray Bahia, Prentice, Perinho Santana, Almiro Borges, Isa Amaral and Indiano Carioca, is also on permanent display.

The Acervo study group planned, within the scope of the project, to point out new conceptions of the notion of museum, capable of addressing racial and territorial relations in a situated and complex way, having as a starting point an insurgent institution, which is the Acervo da Laje. Throughout this year, the group has been meeting and working on various projects together. One of the main objectives of this intergenerational group is to strengthen the museum's internal capacities: how curatorship, museum leadership and exhibition development are stimulated by the involvement of young people from the neighboring district of São João do Cabrito, in Salvador's Subúrbio Ferroviário. The study group has been actively working on creating an inventory of the collections held by the Acervo da Laje and has been involved with the numerous exhibitions throughout Brazil to which the Acervo's collection has traveled.
Acervo da Laje study group members
Vilma Soares Ferreira Santos educator and co-founder of Acervo da Laje, José Eduardo Ferreira Santos educator and co-founder of Acervo da Laje, Carol Souza student of architecture and urbanism, Fabrício Cumming actor and cultural producer, Pablo Lemos student of law and art history 

Mutare Museum

Illustration by Charity Atukunda, 2023.
Mutare Museum is a regional museum under the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe. It started as a general museum and subsequently developed into one which specializes in the collection of transport and antiquities. Mutare Museum boasts of being the Nation’s leader in Transport and Antiquities collection. Mutare Museum was initially established by local enthusiasts as the Umtali Museum Society in 1954, before becoming a National Museum in 1959.  Its most spectacular collection of vintage cars, motorbikes and wagons, coaches and steam engines was donated to the Museum by local enthusiastic collectors and the first Honorary Curator, Captain E. F. Boultbee.

The Mutare Museum study group embarked on a collective research journey taking the group into Mhakwe Community in Chimanimani District of Eastern Zimbabwe. The intention of the project was to document traditional dances and music that resulted in a digital exhibition in the museum. The project involved all study group members at Mutare Museum, community members and stakeholders (for example members of the Mhakwe community such as the traditional leaders: Chiefs and Kraal Heads, singers, dancers and other participants). The project experimented with a collective structure of research and documentation, in which designated tasks were democratised across designated professional roles.
Study group members
Dr Paul Mupira Archeologist and Regional Director for National Museums and Monuments (Eastern Region), Chiedza Nyengeterai Zharare PhD candidate, Curator of Antiquities at Mutare Museum and the Head of the Antiquities department, Pesanai Musakaruka  community coordinator in Mhakwe (Chimanimani District), Lloyd Makonya Regional Marketing and Public Relations officer for the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe’s (NMMZ) eastern region, Talent Sithole Museum docent/guide at the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Shingirai Sakarombe Archaeologist and Assistant Curator of Archaeology at Mutare Museum, Martin Nyamatedya Regional Heritage Education Officer for the eastern region of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Augustine Musendo Curatorial Assistant in the department of Antiquities, Confidence Matanhire Office Orderly and photographer for Mutare Museum, Blessing Mukozhiwa Provincial Culture Officer for Manicaland Province under the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Brighton Mahwite Curatorial Assistant in the Botany/Zoology Department at Mutare Museum, Trevor Shiku exhibitions officer for the eastern region, (Manicaland province), Shadreck Majinje professional carpenter and Maintenance Officer, Nyaradzo Mutize Senior Book-keeper for the eastern region of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Ian Sigauke Human Resources Assistant, Stewart Bhaira Acting Regional Security Officer

Majimaji Memorial Museum

Illustration by Charity Atukunda, 2023.
The Majimaji Memorial Museum is a branch of the National Museum of Tanzania. The Majimaji Museum was officially opened to the public as a National Museum in 2010. This is the only Museum in Tanzania presenting the great history of Maji Maji resistance in the liberation movements during the German colonial era. The Maji Maji exhibition includes the execution site where 67 Maji Maji heroes where hanged publicly on 27th February 1906, the mass grave of 66 Maji Maji heroes, the grave for the great Ngoni warrior Nduna (The Principal Sub Chief) Songea Luwafu Mbano from whom Songea town derives its name. The municipality of Songea and Ruvuma region in general has a unique history to reckon with, centred on the 1905 – 1907 Maji Maji war. The war got its name from “magic water” given by a medicine man of Rufiji basin, Kinjekitile Ngwale.People directly killed in the region and Municipality of Songea were Ngoni and Matengo Chiefs sub-Chiefs and their henchmen who were captured during the battle. They were convicted and finally hanged publicly on 27th February 1906 in Songea town.

This unique history depicts the commitment and eagerness of Tanzanians toward emancipation from colonialism, and reclaiming their lost freedom from the German administration. The war ended in 1907, leaving some historical monuments, features, and structures as testimony to what actually happened. These include German boma, Gereza (prisons), the Commonwealth cemetery, hanging place of Ngoni warriors, the Maji Maji warrior’s hanging place, the mass grave, at the place where now the Maji Maji Memorial Museum stands. Since 1980 the elder’s council under the Ngoni Chief as the chairperson of the council has used the Museum ground to commemorate the event every year on 27th February. This commemoration is currently going on with the collaboration between the National Museum, the ministry of Natural resources and Tourism as well as the Regional administration.

At the Maji Maji Museum, the study group worked towards developing methods of engaging a wider pool of community participants in the everyday running of the museum. As Danford Majogo, study group member and museum curator explained, the group has recently undertaken a project of maintenance and repair as a form of collective care: “we maintain the traditional houses (huts) used by Ngoni chiefs especial Inkosi the one who led the group During the Majimaji war in Songea. The community members learn how to maintain it and keep the history alive. Also in other ways community members participate in conservation activities through preventive measures and remedial conservation and all these procedures aims to make the local community to be a part of the museum and preserving museum objects”.
Study group members
Balthazar Nyamusya Curator In charge,Rose Cretus Kangu Museum Education Officer, Erick Philibeth Soko Museum Education Officer, Danford Roman Majogo Museum Curator, Veronica Bethuel Muro Museum Curator, Emil Laurent Alex Museum Hall Attendant
Ramadhan Mikoyo Security Officer, Bakari Issa Mhanila Driver, Massau Shida Farmer, John Makarius Mbano Lawyer, John Laurent Mapunda Teacher, Junior Ibrahim Baise Teacher, Mayasa Issa Mfaume Farmer, Zainabu Hassan Magoma Farmer, Abasi Mpumula Chitete Farmer