"I go back to Malawi very much inspired and with a wider understanding of cultural management"
Report by Raymond Mwenifumbo
I am Raymond Mwenifumbo from Cultural and Museum Centre Karonga (CMCK) in Malawi. Karonga district is one of the boarder districts of Malawi. It is one of the six districts located along the rift valley of Lake Malawi in Northern Region. It shares the country´s international boundary with Tanzania to the North and district boundaries with Chitipa to the West and Rumphi to the South. It has an area of three thousand hundred fifty five (3,355) square kilometres. According to the 2008 population and Housing Census the population of Karonga District has 270, 960.
I received the rave scholarship from the Rave Foundation of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen in order to equip me with knowledge in cultural management as we are preparing to carry out future exhibitions of different topics in the Museum back home. When I received the email from Rave Foundation about the scholarship, I was so happy and greatly honoured for getting such an opportunity to participate in the additional knowledge in Cultural Management and exhibitions which is very important for Malawi as a Nation. This chance has broadened my spectrum on how to prepare, manage and execute programs. Learning and having the actual experience on the ground on the different processes and functions which are followed in the European museums.
I arrived in Germany on 1st February, 2016 and I started to work at the Senckenberg Naturmuseum on 2nd February, 2016. Although this experience was first time on job training to be in European Museum, all the colleagues and the foundation have been very helpful especially when I had problems to open an account due to the short period I was staying in Frankfurt. The work mates were very friendly and did accommodate me in their different schedules. I arrived when the weather was very cold and quiet unfriendly but I did acclimatise quickly, I enjoyed the different types of foods and being a very advanced rich city it was very enjoyable for me.
When I arrived in the Senckenberg Naturmuseum and also at Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, I worked together with the following people: - Prof. Friedemann Schrenk, Marie Rahn, Dr. Oliver Sandrock and Janina Franz. I did spend much time with the education department in order to learn how to manage the intercultural programs which involve the refugees and other international guests who come to visit the Museum. I had also presided on different meetings schedules and got involved with different projects like "Museum to the power of 3"-connection and "Infant-Caregiver Interaction at the Human Ethology Film Archive"-workshop. I did manage to meet, visit and appreciate different Museum players so that I could learn on their management diversities from one institution to the other on different topics like: - Weltkulturen Museum which has a contemporary collection called "Labour of Love", Deutsches Film Museum – takes you through the genesis of film industry up to now, hr (Hessischer Rundfunk) – one of the biggest TV Station and Radio Station in Germany also airing different interesting programs about the youths, adults interests, Museum and scientific collections, Hessen Park (had lots of experience of ancient times, old Germany households settings, dressing, utensil, old typing and printing equipment), StadtWaldHaus (It was great to see a collection of living animals and the integration of children play grounds and toys), Dukes Castle in Darmstadt, Klassikstadt Frankfurt (a display collection of old and new cars), Palmengarten Frankfurt and many more.
The "Museum to the power of 3" concept intends to connect the 3 Museums (Senckenberg Naturmuseum, Georgia National Museum and Cultural and Museum Centre Karonga) through internet video link on the Human Evolution topic so that people could appreciate the diversity of knowledge and information from other regions. The first workshop will take place from 20 to 25th April, 2016 at Senckenberg Naturmuseum and I will participate in plenary sessions and discussions for the implementation of the project as I convene presentations for the Karonga Museum in Malawi.
My involvement with the two Museums Senckenberg Naturmuseum and Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt which have great exhibitions and professionally managed was a unique opportunity and extremely valuable in developing my understanding and knowledge of European Museum concepts, they have different displaying techniques, educational systems, and electronic labelling methods which are easy for updates. In a more general sense my time in Frankfurt allowed me to look at the cultural management discipline in Malawi through an international lens and I am able to identify its strengths and potential. I go back to Malawi very much inspired and with a wider understanding of the cultural management.
The skills and experience gained in Germany will be a major stepping stone in my career endeavours and also to my colleagues back home. I would like to extend my sincerely appreciations to Rave Foundation and the entire staff for allowing me to come and participate such a rare opportunity. And I would like to recognise some people who were very supportive during my stay in Frankfurt and Darmstadt: - Ingrid Klenner, Birgit Denkel-Oswalt, Prof. Friedemann Schrenk, Dr. Oliver Sandrock, Marie Rahn, Christine Hemm, Anna Rybar Ulrich, Janina Franz and everyone who made my work easy and enjoyable.