Friday 10 June 2016

Fresh water invertebrates week

The Freshwater Invertebrates Department will hold a series of events as part of the Albany Museum's 160th birthday celebrations. All the talks will be at the Albany Museum Rennie Wing from 4-5pm.
Monday, 20June - History of the Freshwater Invertebrates Department by Dr Ferdy de Moor (aimed at the adult public)
Tuesday, 21 June - Careers in freshwater studies by Dr Helen James (aimed at schools/university)
Wednesday, 22 June - Bilharzia and its disappearance from the Eastern Cape by Prof Chris Appleton (KZN) (aimed at adults/older schools)
Thursday, 23 June - What museum collections mean to the public by Musa Mlambo (aimed at adults/schools)
Friday, 24 June - Natural Science Museum, adapting new age technology - a look into the future by Dr Helen James (aimed at the adult public).
Attendance is free but booking is essential: Linda Dyani o46 622 2312/ email

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Albany hosts museums

About 30 delegates from nine museums across the Eastern Cape packed the Albany Museum's Rennie Wing Hall for the 33rd session of the annual South African Museums Association (SAMA) Regional Conference this week. The them for this year's conference is 'The Relevance of Museums Today.'

Dr Robert Gess delivered the keynote address on Tuesday. His talk, Grahamstown's Unique Devonian Heritage: A Cross-Cultural Shared Asset discussed the Waterloo Farm lagerstatte (black shale). Museum practitioners shared their aspects of museum life in their respective fields. Alongside these experts was Boniswa Tana, a General Assistant of the Archaeology section at the Albany Museum who presented a paper on the Relevance of Albany Museum Collections. Bonny, as she is affectionately known, gave a thorough description to the audience through a PowerPoint presentation of what every department at the museum does and the threats facing the museum collections. This was in stark contrast to her daily routine where she sweeps and polishes the ground floor with so much care and meticulousness. Little did we know that she would present a paper at a conference of such magnitude. During the museum outreach programmes you would see Bonny explaining with passion the work of the Archaeology section to the members of the public or school children. With her attention to detail and her passion, it is clear that she is destined for higher places. She is currently studying towards a Diploma in Communication and Counselling with the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP). Well done Bonny, you made us proud.

Patricia Mafu, the Provincial Manager for Museum Services in the Directorate of Museums and Heritage Services at the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts & Culture (DSRAC) in King William'stown said, 'The attendance was awesome. This is an eye opening conference it its own making. Having novice speakers - that is presenters presenting for the first time - giving such quality papers is so stunning.' She added that it was very impressive conference and that every presenter on the programme was well prepared. 'This definitely is taking the museum sphere to the sky with the hope that the sky won't be the limit.'

Other sessions included:
A talk by Phumlani Cimi: The Role of the Herbarium in Understanding and Conserving Biodiversity. Zongezile Matshoba of National English Literary Museum spoke on Contemporary Issues Facing Museums. Dr Helen James of Albany Museum presented on: Natural History Museums, Adapting New Age Technology. Mark Wilby gave a talk on The Owl House in Nieu Bethesda, which, he says "Draws in excess of 15 000 visitors per year, to a particularly remote destination. The dramatic landscape is also a contributor to that." There is, says Wilby, "Tension amongst townspeople due to the community being in social transition."
Mary Cole discussed the "Relevance of national history collections today with reference to research on land snails in Eastern Cape." The last speaker of the day was Andisiwe Kuusi from Amathole Museum in King William'stown who recounted her experiences as a DST-NRF intern at a museum. Kubusi described the role of museums as "preserving and making accessible the remains of the past and present day." For many, the highlight of the day was the children from Kuyasa Special School's lunch time entertainment. They played Stand by me by Ben E. King. "It's not just a song for your ears, it's a message for your hearts, " said their teacher. Proceedings ended with a walking tour of Grahamstown.

The chairperson of the region, Phumeza Mntonintshi, curator of Anthropology at Albany Museum was pleased with this year's conference attendance and is looking forward to the next session in Uitenhage in 2017. She would also like to thank the local sponsors, Graham Hotel, Afri-Temba, Albany Business Machines and Pick 'n Pay.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Grahamstown in the Great War

By Linda Dyani

Albany Museum opened a new exhibition entitled “A glimpse of Grahamstown in the Great War”  on Friday, 11th December. The First World War, or the ‘Great War’ as it became known, was one of the bloodiest wars in history. It was fought between the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire, and towards the end of the war, America) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary supported by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Bulgaria. Between 1914 and 1918, the war drew in countries from all over the world on both sides and mobilized more soldiers in more fields of battle than ever before.  The war caused the disappearance of four Empires, paved the way for major political changes and led directly to the Second World War. Casualties amounted to 17 million people and left tens of millions of other lives broken all over the world.

Due to its historical ties to Britain, the Union of South Africa joined the war on the side of the Allies in 1914 and of about 231 000 of those of all races who served, about 7 000 were killed and another 12 000 were wounded. Many residents of Grahamstown and its surrounding areas joined and supported the war effort and were affected by the aftermath.

It is against this background that Albany Museum put together an exhibition that focuses on how Grahamstown was affected by the First World War. The opening event was attended by more than 40 guests with the museum manager, Manzi Vabaza leading the proceedings. Among the guests was the Head of Museums from Bhisho Head Office, Patricia Mafu who welcomed the guests. Descendants of those who fought in the First World War were also in attendance as well as members of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.  Prof Pat Irwin, a retired Dean of Education from Rhodes University gave a talk about the war. This was followed by the cutting of the ribbon by the chairperson of the board of trustees, Cecil Nonqane, after which the guests were given a guided tour of the exhibition by the curator, Amy van Wezel.  

The display will be on until the end of 2019. It is currently in the foyer of the History Building.

The public is encouraged to come and learn about Grahamstown's involvement in the First World War through our informative and interactive display from 14th December. The museum will be closed from 11am on the 24 December and re-opens on 4January 2016.