Looking Forward to 2017, Looking Back on 2016

  • Posted: Mar 17, 2017

In 2017, Iziko Museums of South Africa remains as committed as ever to the acquisition, conservation, storage, communication and exhibition of our tangible and intangible heritage, and the generation and transmission of culture and knowledge. Over the past year, Iziko continued to make significant progress towards creating a museum that is an ‘African Centre of Excellence’ adapted to the requirements of our developing democracy and the ever evolving context of cultural, scientific and heritage sectors on the continent. Despite progressively limited resources and having to adapt to an accelerated rate of change at every level of society, Iziko has managed considerable achievements in 2016. Rooksana Omar, Chief Executive Officer of Iziko Museums of South Africa sheds some light on our successes.

Highlights of this past year’s delivery included some ground-breaking achievements, including:

Discovery of the São José

The announcement of the first-ever discovery, globally, of the archaeological vestiges of a slave shipwreck – the Portuguese São José, by Iziko’s Maritime Archaeologist, Jaco Boshoff. This discovery represents a global effort to uncover the story of slavery and its impact, involving researchers from South Africa, Mozambique, the United States, Portugal and Brazil.

Research on the São José is ongoing and has the potential to provide an important global model for the research, conservation and interpretation of the history of slavery for this and future generations.

Digital upgrade of the Iziko Planetarium

In partnership with government, academic institutions and the private sector, Iziko aims to digitally upgrade the Iziko Planetarium – creating a state-of-the-art fulldome theatre that will not only provide edu-tainment, but also a revolutionary tool for eResearch and data visualisation for scientists in many fields.

See: Planetarium Digital Upgrade Project

Courtyard Project

The Courtyard Project, a major Capital Works project at the Iziko South African Museum is finally nearing completion. This new wing will be partially accessible to the public, so that they can interact with the quintessence of this museum and Iziko’s overarching offering, i.e. education, knowledge generation and research.

Together, the Planetarium digital upgrade and Courtyard Project will result in a revamped, state-of-the-art Iziko South African Museum – creating a new and unique African Centre of Excellence, to be further developed over the next decade in anticipation of this museum’s 200-year anniversary.

Impacts 2016/17

Iziko’s values emanate from our respect for the diversity of the people of South Africa, and inclusivity and social justice are key frameworks that inform our strategic outcomes. One of the cornerstones of Iziko’s mandate is thus access for all, and our delivery in this area is critical.

To ensure access, specifically to those who lack the means to afford entrance fees, Iziko implements a diversified pricing structure that includes free entry on 15 days annually, linked to commemorative holidays – including a full week of free entry over the week that Heritage Day is celebrated.

40,617– The no. of visitors who received free entry during Iziko’s commemorative days

Through Iziko’s Education and Public Programmes (EPP) department, we continued to open our spaces to the public as important knowledge resources.

89,032– The no. of learners who enjoyed educational experiences in the museums and planetarium – accompanied by 4,207 educators

15,678– The no. of people the Iziko Mobile Museum outreach programme reached

Iziko, with the assistance of the HCI Foundation’s Community Transport Support Programme, offered free transport to visit the museum.

44– The no. of schools and organisations from mostly marginalised and disadvantaged communities that were assisted through the provision of free buses – serving 2,657 visitors

2,565– The no. of free educational resources were also made available to schools attending various educational programmes

12– The no. of public programmes linked to free commemorative days

29– The no. of special needs programmes presented, catering to the needs of differently-abled youth

62– The no. of public lectures, workshops and conferences offered

88 – The no. of tours hosted by the various departments

35– The no. of interns who gained valuable work-based experience

56 – The no. of volunteers who shared their time at Iziko

4– The no. of post-graduate students accommodated by Iziko

3 – The no. of post-doctoral researchers who enjoyed access to our collections and had the use of our facilities

Growing the number of visitors and ensuring that visitor demographics are more diverse and representative of the South African populace remains a priority.

545,013– The no. of visitors (including outreach numbers) to Iziko in 2015/16

Iziko’s museums are spaces where we seek to present the public with relevant and engaging permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase the historical, natural, social and aesthetic contexts of our times.

The retelling of narratives of the struggle remained a catalyst for many of Iziko’s exhibitions in the past year. Extensive internal and external discussions to inform this process also took place over the past year. We aim to create museums that embrace the memories, identities and cultures of all South Africans, and exhibitions that speak to current and future realities that can be viewed through the lens of our hard won democracy.

15– The no. of innovative temporary exhibitions presented, engaging with diverse issues pertinent to South Africa today

Despite Iziko’s success in generating income and securing donor funding to date, we cannot sustain the funding of our key programmes. Increasingly, given our current funding constraints, special exhibitions, educational programmes, conservation, acquisitions and research are often only possible via strategic partnerships.

54– The no. of long-term partnerships Iziko engaged in                 

48– The no. of formal project-related partnerships contributed to Iziko’s delivery, with an equivalent Rand value of R11,642,894

Iziko is aware of the need to constantly improve skills and professionalism in our sector, and to ensure the development of a workforce that is up-to-date with international best practice, the rapid development of technology, and the changing nature of our work.

With a growing understanding that the protection and promotion of cultural and natural diversity are major challenges of the 21st century, it is hoped that our leaders and decision makers will support us in achieving our mandate, and ensure our contribution to society for the benefit of current and future generations.

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