Upcountry Museums Struggle to Attract Visitors

Items displayed at Kogere community museum in fort portal
Items displayed at Kogere community museum in fort portal

Community Museums in Ruwenzori region are struggling to attract visitors. The community museums are owned by individuals, organizations or institutions, which collect artifacts to showcase the different cultural heritages in the country.  In 2009, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU), a local NGO promoting culture, undertook a heritage mapping activity aimed at identifying community museums and elements of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Uganda. The initiative, “Link past and future” was aimed at encouraging individuals, organizations and institutions to collect artifacts and start their own museums to depict and preserve the local cultural heritage.

In the Ruwenzori region, four community museums were set up. In Kasese, Bulemba Museum and Kikonzo cultural centre were set up and in Kabarole Kogere community museum and Engabu Za Toro cultural centre were established. However, few visitors or even none are visiting the community museums, which threatens their existence. The Kogere community museum has a collection of artifacts which include spears and shield, royal stools, which were used by the past Kings of Tooro, traditional musical instruments, calabashes, pictures of the past King of Tooro, animal skins, the first Rutooro Bible and dictionary.

Steven Baguma, the in-charge of the museum says that since its inception, a year ago they have record a low number of visitors. She says that on average they receive five people in a week. Baguma says since it was his initiative to start the museum and he is facing difficulties to maintain it. Baguma says visitors are required to pay 1,000shs, which is used to maintain the museum.

Beatrice Masereka, the director Bulemba Museum says the centre is often closed because of lack visitors. Masereka says that a year after its establishment, the museum hasn’t brought any enthusiasm amongst members of the local community and beyond. She says they have made several attempts to popularize the museum among the community and in schools in the area but the response is low. Masereka says that the museum gets funds for maintenance from selling Lukonzo dictionaries and other materials to schools but only a handful, purchase the literature. She wants the government to fund the operations of the museums and popularize them; since they help government to promote culture.

Francis, Mugisha, the chairperson of the Uganda Community Museum Association, which is aimed at preserving artifacts and cultures throughout the country through community museums, says they are working with CCFU to urge government to implement the National Culture policy which advocates and mobilize resources for culture. According to statistics by the CCFU, there are approximately 25 community museums in all parts of the country and 13 of them can be considered as established and vibrant, while 10 others are either dormant or with potential for future development.

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