Rwanda marks International museums day

Rwanda will Friday mark the International day of Museums, with a call for increased domestic tourism-specifically paying more attention on the significance of museums on the socio-economic transformation of the country, officials have said.
Tourists visit a traditional Rwandan homestead in the Southern Province. (File)
Tourists visit a traditional Rwandan homestead in the Southern Province. (File)

Rwanda will Friday mark the International day of Museums, with a call for increased domestic tourism—specifically paying more attention on the significance of museums on the socio-economic transformation of the country, officials have said. 

In an event scheduled to take place at the National Art Gallery, in Nyanza District, government officials and those of Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) are expected to renew a call for the public to pay attention to the country’s institutions that conserve a collection of natural and historical artifacts.

Speaking to journalist, yesterday—shortly after an excursion of the National Liberation Museum Park (Mulindi), in Gicumbi District—INMR Director General Amb. Robert Masozera said that, “It is high time every member of the Rwandan society paid more attention to the most diverse and unique historical facts such museums avail.

“I must admit that less has been talked about of our museums and the history of our nation, right from pre-colonial era to present Rwanda. It is a responsibility we have to carry both as leaders but also the media.

“Yet still, these museums are supposed to educate the present and future generations about our past and present events that have shaped the course of our country,” Masozera said.

Several other events scheduled for today’s event include a tour to the Natural History Museum in Kigali (also known as Kandt House) before stakeholders—including government official, tour operators and journalists—head to Nyanza district to visit King’s Palace Museum as well as the National Art Gallery.

 

The main event will be held at the gallery, later in the day.

The Stakeholder’s excursion tour of the Gicumbi-based National Liberation Museum Park, yesterday, is part of a series of events INMR has lined up towards International Museum’s day celebration.  

 

Last week INMR opened doors to all museums  for all tourists to visit for free, an event Masozera says will be held once a year.

Indeed, listening carefully to what Masozera says it is evident of how the Rwanda museums would jog you into the country’s rich heritage; the kingdoms, the artifacts, the values, norms and traditions.

 

Located in different parts of the country, each museum has a different appeal and character. 

With a rich history that dates back to when Rwanda was a monarch, colonial and post-colonial times; with artifacts and regal symbols that have been explored to attract local and foreign tourists, bringing in revenue and creating awareness about the culture of the Rwandan people, the museums are contributing to national pride and development.

Before 1994 there was only one museum in Rwanda, the National Museum of Rwanda, located in former Butare Province (the former colonial capital) and present day Huye District.

Post Genocide, the number of museums has grown to eight; Environment Museum, Former King Palace, National Art Gallery, Natural History, National Libration, Presidential Palace and Ethnographic museums all under the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR).

Despite these achievements, Masozera insists the museums sub-sector still lags behind of the bigger local tourism industry, hence explaining the “aggressiveness” him and the team have to push it to the level he think it deserves.

“We have come a long way, from one museum a few years ago to now eight museums (Including one on campaign against the Genocide Museum, to be opened in July),” he said.

According to Masozera, tourism revenues have significantly increased as per the increase in the tourists, a sign he feels that shows of great potential museums can play in economic development of the country.

Currently the number of tourists to all museums has increased 200,000 per year from 1,000 tourists about nineteen years ago, he said.

Revenues have also increased to about Rwf200 million annually.


“But we are not satisfied with these figures, we want to change the mindset of our people, make more investments and see numbers increase further,” he said.

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