Kowie Museum seeks to be more representative

JON HOUZET

THE Kowie History Museum wants to make its exhibits more representative of all cultures in the region in an effort to secure municipal or government funding.

Speaking at the museum’s AGM last week, acting chairman Hennie Marais said this was one of the major challenges the museum faces in the new year.

“Indications are that funding for this may become available if serious attempts were made to embrace the culture of the region in totality – to this end we as trustees are looking into how to make the museum more representative through expanding our isiXhoza exhibits and other cultural information,” Marais said.

OLD AND NEW: The board of trustees of the Kowie History Museum for 2012/2013, (from left, back) curator Dick Schuurman, councillor Skura Venene, and (front) Hennie Marais, Heather Howard, Joy Billings and Sandy Birch. Basil Clarke, Laura Mitchell and Brian Waddington were unavailable for the photograph Picture: JON HOUZET

“I believe that our mayor is on a similar cause. He is investigating the history of the frontier wars that were fought in the region, something which could well become an integral part of exhibits at the museum.”

The museum has entered the digital age with a new website under construction and curator Dick Schuurman finally has an e-mail address at the museum.

Another change at the museum is that a councillor, Skura Venene has been co-opted as a member of the board of trustees.

This followed discussions with mayor Sipho Tandani.

Other board members that made themselves available for re-election are Marais, Heather Howard, Laura Mitchell, Brian Waddington and Sandy Birch.

Jim Truscott, who served as treasurer for 10 years, has retired from the board. Howard, who has been involved with the Museum for over 20 years, seven of them as chairperson, took over as secretary.

“The Friends of the Museum Committee, unfortunately after many years of work by Isobel Timm and others in the chair, fell away, and their work in fundraising, and in catering when necessary, has fallen to members of the board and helpers,” said Marais.

Among the activities the museum has been involved in over the past year which have increased exposure for the museum were a craft day held on International Museum Day, the Riparian Festival along the Kowie River, and external exhibits at Rosehill and Heritage malls.

They have also benefited from referrals by the Port Alfred tourism office.

Another challenge for the museum is finding new premises, as the building they are housed in has been sold.

“Transfer still hasn’t happened but we’re looking seriously at alternatives,” said Marais.

“A member of the audience asked if it was true the church at the old train station had to move because the museum was moving into the premises.

“I wouldn’t say that’s true,” said Marais. “We did look into it. We have applied to use it but it hasn’t been approved.

“There are only six or even people in that church so the space is too big for them anyway and they are looking at alternatives. So the venue is vacant.”

A special presentation was made to former chairperson Biff Todd, awarding her honorary life membership of the museum.

Howard said Todd was chairperson during a challenging time “when we realised if the museum closed it would be almost impossible to open again”.

Schuurman was happy to report that the past year had seen the museum receive both the highest number of visitors in a single month, as well as the highest revenue, in another month.

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