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Talk / Lecture

Share the Mic: Decolonizing an African Museum

March 23, 2021 | 11:00AM - 12:00PM

The Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda, financed by Belgium in the late 1980s as a symbol of cooperation with Rwanda, houses one of Africa’s most significant ethnographic collections. The selection of material and its display, however, have been products of colonial perspectives, rather than those reflecting the knowledge, values, and priorities of African countries and communities from which the objects originated. As part of decolonizing and renovating the museum, staff from the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Belgium are currently working with Rwandese colleagues to reevaluate conservation practices. Join Fowler staff and museum professionals from the RMCA and Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy for a conversation about how conservation practices can serve as one of many strategies for decolonizing museums in different countries with unequal resources.  

The panelists will include Marci Burton, the Fowler’s Mellon Conservation Fellow; Siska Genbrugge, Objects Conservator at Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium; André Ntagwabira, Archaeology Researcher at Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy; and Chantal Umuhoza, Curator at Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy. The program will be moderated by Ellen Pearlstein, Professor, UCLA/Getty Conservation Program.

This program is co-presented by the Fowler Museum and the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials.

Share the Mic
The Fowler believes in the civic duty of museums to give forum to different points of view. This series shares our platform with thought leaders—artists, activists, and allies—who are guiding us along the arc of justice.

Image credit: Nanguburundi drum captured in Burundi by the army of King Cyirima II Rujugira in the 17th century. In Burundi it was called “Nangurwanda / I hate Rwanda;” it was renamed “Nanguburundi / I hate Burundi” after its captivity.


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