Museum facing change

2017-07-18 06:01

The Simon’s Town Museum board members have been talking to residents about a change in legislation that may affect it.

The draft Amendment Bill for the Museums Ordinance 8 of 1975, which was published earlier this year, was discussed at a recent community engagement session at the museum.

The bill would impact museums affiliated to the provincial government, explains Simon’s Town board of trustees chairperson Commander Eddie Wesselo.

“Our understanding from several interactions with the museum service over the last six or so years is that the museum service has come up with two proposed ‘directions’ for affiliated museums,” he says.

The new bill looks to make museums either private or part of a regional museum – in the case of Simon’s Town, a regional museum of Cape Town and the West Coast. In the latter case the museum would operate as a satellite with the provincial government owning the collection and building and managing and distributing funding and appointing staff.

“In that scenario, as a satellite museum, the staff would do guided tours and education programmes, maintain exhibitions and report to the regional museum. There would be no board for the Simon’s Town Museum.

“A representative for Simon’s Town Museum would sit on the (overall) board that administers the Provincial Museum of Cape Town and the West Coast region and its satellites,” he says.

Operating as a satellite museum poses some challenges, as a large portion of the museum’s collection is owned by community organisations, adds Wesselo. Should the museum not wish to operate as a satellite museum under the province, they could not expect funding or staff, he says.

The recent engagement session explained these alternatives to community members, stressing that should the museum opt to run as a private museum, it would need funding and volunteers from the community.

Wesselo, however, adds that the legislation must still appear before parliament and is not expected to come into effect before the middle of next year.

Fish Hoek Valley Museum curator Sally Britten confirms the museum would not be affected as it is already running as a private museum and receives no funding from government.

The national department of arts and culture had not commented at the time of going to print.

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