At the recent SAMA conference that took place last month, members of the Durban Local History Museums team presented on a variety of topics. Museum officer, Ayanda Ngcobo, and researcher, Gugu Ntshangase, spoke about the importance of ongoing research on a museum’s collections and how an important collection can be neglected as a result of insufficient research. It doesn’t matter if you have an important artefact, if nobody understands the significance of the it, its importance won’t be recognised.
Different research methods, including the use of libraries, the Internet, and field research were discussed, as was the importance of interviewing donors at the time of acquisition. Researching a museum’s collections may also help museum staff to identify parts of their collections that require external assessment, or the assistance of a specialist.
Ayanda and Gugu pointed out how detailed research not only contributes to academic knowledge but also enhances the experience of visitors to the museum.