Hyper-connection and collaboration of the UP Museums with the Department of Library Services

Posted on May 01, 2018

The University of Pretoria Museums collaborated with the Department of Library Services in order that staff could learn about their own campus and the diverse collections located at the University.  Hence, new connections between the museums and the local community (i.e. the staff members of the Department of Library Services and of the University) could be forged through electronic communication, but also by maintaining physical connections between the people and their heritage by inviting them to tour the UP Museums with the museum’s public engagement officer.  Internal collaboration between staff and departments within the University of Pretoria is critical not only for strengthening collegial ties between staff, but also to establish long term working relationships sharing ideas and initiatives that allow for collaboration and engagement. 

The UP Museums form part of the Department of UP Arts who manage over 52 art collections on all of the campuses, including all the public sculptures characteristic of the UP campus.  International Museum Day is annually celebrated on 18 May by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Department of UP Arts took this opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Library Services to showcase the wonderful museum collections of the UP Museums.  Last year, more than 156 countries and over 36,000 museums participated in the celebrations.  Since the UP Museums have been proud members of ICOM for more than a decade, the intention was to invite UP staff into the museum galleries to generate awareness of the University’s art and museum collections in order to celebrate International Museum Month in May.  This year’s theme for International Museum Day was “Hyperconnected museums: new approaches, new publics”.  This topic revolves around the use of multiple means of communication to connect with audiences.  Hyperconnectivity also includes the use of new technology, digitization and databases to make information available to more people, thereby gaining new audiences. Both the UP Museums and the Library make use of a variety of information systems.  In addition, digitization becomes more and more important in the storing of data and the dissemination of information. 

More than 43 staff members from the Department of Library Services (and other departments) took up the offer and participated in the five tours organized by Elsabé Olivier and Nicole Hoffmann.  Together with the tourist guide, staff had the opportunity to view the famous Mapungubwe Gold Rhino, discover the oldest piece of furniture in South Africa, wonder about a “maybe” Rembrandt painting and explore the University’s very own “Narnia Wardrobe”. In addition, other exciting and unique objects were explored such as an ancient Mesopotamian clay tablet, a ceramic vacuum cleaner, unique archaeological clay figurines and thousand-year old ceramic vessels, to name a few objects of interest.  Staff also had an exciting experience with the abstract sculptures of Edoardo Villa in contrast with the temporary exhibition of artworks by Luigi Di Sarro, the latter being a loaned art collection to the UP Museums by the Italian Cultural Institute and the Di Sarro Archive in Rome. 

It is hoped that the Department of UP Arts and the Department of Library Services can continue this collaboration in future and celebrate this annual event in promoting access to information and sharing knowledge and ideas about the museums.

- Author Ms Nicole Hoffmann

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