Museum handbook translated for Portuguese African countries

September 2006 -

Professionalizing museums in the Lusofone countries of Africa was the objective of the work conference organised in Nairobi in late August. Luiza Monteiro da Silva, one of the initiators, is satisfied: "We achieved better-than-expected results." Da Silva is a member of the board of the Culturalia foundation, which organised the conference in cooperation with Africom, the African department of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

The conference participants were heritage specialists from Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verdi and São Tomé, and the topic Handbook of Standardswas the Handbook of Standards Principle. The participants worked hard in recent months on the translation of this handbook, an ICOM manual promoting museum expertise.


"Each of the participants had worked with the Handbook for quite some time," Da Silva explains. "The conference was primarily intended for attuning the versions that had been distributed earlier. That proved to be a daunting task, but things went well. The translation from English and French into Portuguese is finished. We hope that it can be published with support from ICOM and Africom. Only publishing it on the Internet is not enough."

The translation of the handbook is not the only result of the conference. "We have taken the first step towards establishing a network for the exchange of more knowledge, which proved to be sorely needed. The participants had much to tell one another. A proposal for establishing a training programme was also formulated. Virtually no knowledge of museology is available in these countries. The school we want should not only focus on actual practice, but also support the people in the thought processes involved in defining policy."

The work conference was partly financed by the Prince Claus Fund and the Ford Foundation.