A visit from Museums of Malawi

At the beginning of October, National Museums Scotland welcomed Acting Director Lovemore Mazibuko and Mike Gondwe, Education Officer from Museums of Malawi. They were here to discuss plans for working together on a forthcoming special exhibition in 2013 to commemorate the birth of Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone 200 years ago. Livingstone was the first European to document Malawi in the mid 1800s and continues to be remembered as an important figure in Malawi. During the week we successfully identified a number of potential collaborative projects which will enable our exhibition to reflect the legacy of Livingstone in Malawi today.

In a packed programme of meetings and talks, Lovemore and Mike visited Conservation, Digital Media and Collections Management to discuss the development of a new national museum in Malawi and the potential for collaboration in the future. We also dropped into a schools session working with our African handling collections. Impressed with our new Education Suite, Mike pointed out to the class how lucky they were, as in Malawi his sessions were for classes of 200 who didn’t even have access to paper or pencils.

Mike, Lovemore and Sarah drop into a schools session in the Learning Centre at the National Museum of Scotland
Mike, Lovemore and Sarah drop into a schools session in the Learning Centre at the National Museum of Scotland.

Their visit would not have been complete without a day at the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, Lanarkshire (a major lender to the exhibition), but there is no doubt that the highlight of the visit came when we managed, at the last minute, to arrange a personal greeting with HRH Princess Anne, who was visiting he museum to open the special exhibition Admiral Cochrane, The Real Master and Commander.

Lovemore and Mike’s visit is, I hope, the beginning of a rich and fruitful partnership between National Museums Scotland and Museums of Malawi, continuing in 2012 when I visit Museums of Malawi and, with their help, collect content for the exhibition in film, photos, points of view and objects. I will also be looking to see how we can share some elements of the exhibition with those in Malawi celebrating the bi-centenary of Livingstone and establish a more lasting collaboration.

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