UPCT takes a behind-the-scenes tour of UP Museums

Posted on March 25, 2024

The University of Pretoria (UP) Museums houses some of the most impressive collections of art and artefacts in South Africa, including the Mapungubwe collection and the Van Wouw sculpture collection. On Tuesday 4 March, the new University of Pretoria Campus Tours (UPCT) 2024 team got to meet the academic staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes to curate and preserve the UP Museums’ collections.

Professor Karen Harris, Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS) and founder of UPCT, provided the UPCT team with a brief introduction to Dr Sian-Tiley Nel (Head of the UP Museums), Mr. Matsobane Steven Motena (UP Museum Interpretative Officer and Tour Guide), and Mr. Maurice Shirinda (UP Museum Collections Assistant). The team were also introduced to Mr. Gerard de Kamper who is the UP Museum’s Collections Curator, and other UP Museums staff. Dr Tiley-Nel, an expert on Mapungubwe and an important partner in UPCT’s endeavours, provided the soon-to-be campus tour guides with an extensive overview of all important staff members’ functions and a word of advice about what to present to all visitors, tourists, many of them visiting scholars and researchers.

Mr. Steven Motena, an accredited registered tour guide and UPCT alumnus, provided his UPCT successors with a tour of the Mapungubwe gallery and the Van Tilburg collection located in the Old Arts Building along with the sculpture collection in the Villa Gallery, Old Merensky Building. His presence and guidance provided great comfort in knowing that every guide starts with limited knowledge, but that it will not remain that way if you are determined to make a success of your tour guiding career. He also passed down several pointers regarding questions that tourists might ask about UP’s collections.

The UPCT students also got to meet Mrs. Sandra Markgraaf who works in art conservation and got to take a look at some of the art conservation processes. The tour by Mr. Motena also provided UPCT students with an opportunity to meet Mrs. Helma Steenkamp who manages the Mapungubwe archive and Mrs. Michelle de la Harpe, who works as the UP Museum archivist.

- Author L Jordaan

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