Eleven museums in the Western Cape burgled or vandalism, since 2019; International Museum Day 2023

Eleven museums in the Western Cape reported acts of theft or vandalism, since 2019.

This was revealed by the provincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, in reply to a DA parliamentary question. According to the department, the cost of these criminal acts cost about R500 000.

The findings come as Thursday marks International Museum day, which emphasises the important role that museums play in society.

PICTURE - Iziko,org: South African National Gallery

The theme for 2023 is “Museums, Sustainability and Wellbeing”.

According to International Council of Museums, museums are key contributors to the wellbeing and to the sustainable development of our communities.

‘’As trusted institutions and important threads in our shared social fabric, they are uniquely placed to create a cascading effect to foster positive change. There are many ways in which museums can contribute to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals: from supporting climate action and fostering inclusivity, to tackling social isolation and improving mental health,’’ it said in a statement.

The DA’s Spokesperson on Cultural Affairs and Sport, Gillion Bosman, called upon the police to intensify its efforts and crack down on these criminals.

‘’As custodians of our history, it is crucial for communities to come together and denounce these acts of criminality…The Western Cape DCAS, in its commitment to museum protection, has taken several measures to mitigate such incidents. These include the provision of armed response teams, closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance systems, and alarm systems to enhance security. However, these efforts are rendered futile if the SAPS fails to take decisive action against the perpetrators.’’

‘’The damages inflicted on these museums have already amounted to R500,000, funds that could have otherwise been directed towards uplifting our communities. It is imperative that swift justice be served, ensuring that those responsible for these senseless acts are held accountable,’’ he added.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape’s Cultural Affairs and Sport Department encouraged the public to visit one of the 31 affiliated museums in the province.

‘’We want our museums to be inclusive spaces, where every person, no matter their background, can see themselves and their own stories reflected. Museums have collaborated with our Library service on the Oral History Project, where the stories of local people are being captured as video clips so that the authentic voices of communities can be heard telling their own experiences of important events,’’ said Tania Colyn, Acting Spokesperson to MEC Anroux Marais.

‘’We are also reinventing museums as spaces that can become cultural hubs in communities. We want our museums to become vibrant, well-used spaces where community members can come together to experience art, culture and connectedness.’’

‘’I encourage all people in the Western Cape to visit a local museum that they haven’t been to before. Our museums have extensive collections, exciting exhibitions and they tell the stories of all the people that make our province so rich and diverse,’’ she added.

All Iziko Museums will be free of charge on Thursday, except for the Planetarium, Digital Dome, Groot Constantia and Castle of Good Hope.

Done By: Mitchum George


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