Monday, June 6, 2011

Revamp at Madiba museum

The world-renowned Nelson Mandela Museum, in Mthatha, will close for more than two years from August for a major makeover.

Though the museum will be off limits for 30 months to the legions of Madiba fans, they will still be able to experience “Madiba magic” at the Mandela Museum in nearby Qunu, Mandela’s home town.

Promising a bigger and better experience after the renovation, museum chief financial officer Khwezi Mpumlwana said many exhibits now on display at the flagship Bhunga Building would be moved to Qunu.

Other material from the Mthatha Museum would go on a country-wide roadshow, taking it to people who cannot afford the pilgrimage to the Eastern Cape.

“It will be like a brand new museum when we move back after the renovations,” Mpumlwana said.

“The work is part of a renewal process that will provide visitors with a deeper, richer story of Madiba. The meaningfulness of his life will be brought out even more.”

As well as improving display areas in the historic Bhunga Building, which once housed the Transkei bantustan’s administration, renovations will include building a new wing so that more Madiba treasures now in storage can be seen by the hundreds of people who flock there every week.

Mpumlwana said the building was not designed to be a museum.

“It was a parliament and offices before we opened up. We plan to give it a major facelift and hope to provide more research and context behind the gifts and exhibits.

“There will be even more Madiba magic when we are finished.”

Many gifts to Mandela from all over the world are in storage because of the lack of exhibition space. Researchers are studying the origins of each piece to better explain their significance.

“It is all very exciting. When we are finished, even more gifts will be on display,” Mpumlwana said.

The facelift would also make the museum more child-friendly.

When the work is completed, items never displayed before from all over the world would join exhibits such as Madiba’s Robben Island sunglasses, prison latrine bucket and the iconic No 6 Springbok rugby jersey he wore when South Africa won the 1995 rugby World Cup.

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