Zambian museum innovates to survive pandemic woes

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 19, 2021
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It is an established fact that museums the world over have registered a sharp decline in incomes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because almost all museums rely on international visitors to survive.

While some museums have closed, others are still operating because they are employing innovative measures to reach visitors.

Livingstone Museum, which is located in Livingstone, a city in southern Zambia, is one of the heritage places that have continued to operate, thanks to its programs that target local people.

The museum has been conducting educational talks about its products and services in schools and other communities, efforts which have seen local people develop an interest in their culture and heritage.

"The response has been good, we now have more locals coming through to the museum," said Clare Mateke, the acting director of Livingstone Museum.

Mateke revealed that Livingstone Museum is currently working to have a mobile exhibitions program aimed at bringing its products and services closer to communities.

"We plan to have mobile exhibitions and move around communities with some exhibits as well as give talks about our products and services. This will also be an opportunity for us to learn from communities how best to deliver our programs," she said.

Mateke also revealed that the museum, has during this period used its social media platforms as well as website extensively to aggressively market its products and services.

She further mentioned that before the advent of the COVID-19, the museum used to have a minimum of about 50 international visitors every day. Today, it receives only about five international visitors per day.

"That is why we are encouraging local people to take an interest in their heritage and visit the museum," Mateke asserted.

According to a report by the International Council of Museums, the situation for museums and their professionals remains dire, with serious economic, social and psychological repercussions in the short and long term alike.

Despite this gloomy picture, the COVID-19 crisis, however, has served as a catalyst for innovations, some of which were already underway, notably an increased focus on digitization and the creation of new forms of cultural experience and dissemination.

In 2020, despite the limitations imposed by a digital-only format, #IMD2020 activities reached more than 83 million users on social media on May 18.

As the world commemorates International Museum Day this year under the theme "The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine," museums are being called upon to come up with new business models for cultural institutions and innovative solutions for the social, economic and environmental challenges of the present. 

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