New post for museum fundi

2010-01-28 00:00

GILBERT Torlage has been appointed deputy director of the Voortrekker/Msunduzi Museum. He succeeds Henrietta Ridley who retired last year.

His brief is to manage core museum functions such as research, collecting, marketing, education and exhibitions as well as aspects of financial control.

Torlage’s appointment sees him leaving his current post at the provincial Heritage and Museum Services, where he is chief museum scientist. Prior to that, he was a historian for the then Natal Parks Board (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife).

In Torlage’s 20 years with museum services, he has supervised research, collecting and liaison work with various museums in the province. “It will be a novel experience to work exclusively in the museum in which I’m based,” Torlage says of his new post.

Of the many projects Torlage was involved with at museum services, he says one stands out: “But it is tinged with a degree of sadness. This was the research I did with anthropologist Dieter ­Reusch in the Msinga valley.”

Reusch was murdered in the ­area in 2003.

“We built up a wonderful rapport with people there,” says Torlage. “It was a tremendous success story and it was very sad when it came to such an abrupt and tragic end.”

Torlage and Reusch’s research and collecting led to several exhibitions featuring Zulu ceramics and a travelling exhibition dealing with umemulo, a coming-of-age ceremony.

Torlage also wrote a series of books on battles and other aspects of the Anglo-Boer War to coincide with the war’s centenary, as well as a series of supplements on the topic for The Witness.

Torlage, who takes up his new post on February 1, says he is looking forward to working under director Bongani Ndlovu, a former colleague at museum services.

Torlage will hit the ground running, working with consultants Haley Sharpe to upgrade exhibitions in the museum’s main hall.

“And in 2012 the Church of the Vow museum turns 100,” he says.

“That is going to be something special. The exhibition area is being upgraded and historian William Guest is writing a history.”

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