The coronavirus pandemic has had deep-reaching effects on many aspects of life. A number of countries implemented partial or full lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. While in South Africa the number of new cases and deaths has significantly reduced, large gatherings of people are still prohibited, which has ongoing implications for religious groups, sports events and conferences.
The last few months have challenged the way in which museums are able to provide their services, which include educating and entertaining the public. Cultural institutions around the globe have seen a trend towards providing digital access, exploring things like digital exhibitions, virtual reality and the live-streaming of events. The South African Museum Association (SAMA) is following suit. Due to the COVID 19 crisis this year’s SAMA National Conference will be replaced by a one-day webinar, to be held on the 28th of October 2020. You can register for it HERE.
Museums rely heavily on objects and personal interactions with guides and educators to communicate information about their collections. And while some South African museums offer online exhibitions and walkthroughs, the vast majority do not, relying on face-to-face exchanges. The past few months have forced museum workers to rethink their practices anew and develop innovative ways to meet their objectives in the face of a crisis
like the Covid-19 pandemic. This has informed the theme of the one-day webinar, which is “interacting at a distance”. In addition to the SAMA webinar, our local museum association, along with the International Council of Museums, will host a joint webinar at the end of November, focussing on the theory and practice of decolonising museums collections.