MUTARE – After having been a frozen hub for half a century, Mutare Museum has finally completed a revamp of one of its redundant galleries, Beit Gallery.
National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) took more than a year to complete the refurbishment that cost $35 000.
The refurbishments got a $25 000 grant boost from London-based Beit Trust to correct its colonial era-tainted displays after two decades of fundraising.
NMMZ Eastern region director Paul Mupira said the Beit Gallery revamp was incorporating modern techniques of displays and ensuring that people interact more with displays.
Some of the museum’s displays had not been changed in 50 years — sitting still since the museum was opened in 1964.
“Our displays are very old. We need to have more. Some exhibitions are more than 50 years old,” Mupira told this publication last year adding that it was time to correct the enduring colonial binaries which were still reflecting on the displays.
Mupira said Beit Gallery had been transformed to focus on eastern Shona culture.
A tour of the gallery reveals an elaborate presentation of the eastern Shona culture’s cosmology — spirit world, witchcraft, traditional healing, life and death and famous Manyika lighting creation and use.
Mupira said they focused on “the most important aspects that are valued by select communities and the most critical elements that are dying.”
He said the revamp was also informed by “visitor surveys” which ranked the most interesting aspects of the museum as live animal displays and Shona cultural displays with gun displays being deemed the least interesting.
While e-technology is prominent in making the gallery more “interactive, engaging and educative” he said they didn’t want to make the displays “too complex due to sustainability considerations.
“We want to do it in such a manner that it will be manageable and sustainable”.