Museum deputy director retires after 26 years

2009-08-03 00:00

THE deputy director of the Msunduzi Voortrekker Museum, Henrietta Ridley, retired last week, ending a career that spans over 26 years in the history and museum industry in the province, with 13 of these dedicated to the Msunduzi Voortrekker Museum.

Her departure is described by her colleagues as an immeasurable loss to the museum industry.

Ridley is described by her colleagues as a principled, meticulous and dedicated woman who loves her job. She arrived in Pietermaritzburg in 1983 from Cape Town and started working at the Voortrekker Museum in 1996 as a deputy director.

She is credited with elevating the museum to its current successful status.

Bongani Ndlovu, the director of the museum, said since Ridley joined the museum, she improved its quality, its performance and helped it encompass all the different cultures in the province. He cited research, exhibitions and education as the issues that dramatically improved in the museum under her stewardship.

“She developed the museum into what it is today”, he said. “She employed qualified researchers which improved our exhibitions and improved the quality of our library. For the first time the museum had educational officers.”

Ndlovu described her retirement as a loss to the museum industry, saying, “it is not possible to easily replace over 26 years of industry”.

Ridley said although she was retiring, she was not going to be completely lost to the museum, saying she would still be available to work on volunteer basis.

She said although there were many things that have changed in the museum since she arrived, she cited integrating culture in the museum as her biggest achievement.

“When I first got here, the museum was an Afrikaner museum and I was given the mandate to change that and make the museum more representative of the KwaZulu-Natal culture.

Ridley said over the years she has worked with many museums in the province and that’s what she will miss.

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