The new Permanent Secretary for Culture and Tourism, Mr Andrew Nihopara has emphasised the importance of museums to the development of a society and of museums collaborating with the public to value, conserve and promote their cultures.
Speaking at the 2016 International Museum Day celebration in Honiara yesterday, Mr Nihopara said the International Museum Day is an annual event to raise awareness of this fundamental role of museums which is to manage, promote and preserve the cultural values of a society.
He said each year the International Council of Museum proposes a theme based on the relevance museum-related subjects that it intends to promote to the international community and the theme for this year is ‘Museum and Cultural Landscape.’
Mr Nihopara said cultural landscape constitutes aspects such as traditional knowledge passed down for generations, cultural expressions through traditional dances and expressive visual forms as well as tangible arts and crafts which are the authentic demonstration of cultural knowledge in the form of art and crafts.
He said cultural landscape must be managed to preserve for future generations and references hence the international primary vision of museums is to oversee national cultural and historic heritage through the formulation of appropriate plans and activities.
“Museums should be actively involved in researching and producing findings, acquisition, development and sharing of knowledge of national surrounding territories and providing communities who reside with these cultural and historic heritages to develop different ways of looking after this (cultural) landscape.”
The Permanent Secretary for Culture and Tourism said in the domestic scene, the National Museum holds many of the country’s cultural treasures which depict the stories, ingenuity and traditional knowledge and wisdom of ‘our’ ancestors and thus provide a valuable opportunity to learn of ‘our’ past.
In this context, he encouraged students and the public at large to pay visits to the National Museum to learn about the country’s cultural landscape to appreciate the wisdom of ‘our’ ancestors and understand ‘our’ past.
“When we learn about and appreciate the knowledge and wisdom of our forefathers, it would also help us shape futures and create identities for our future generations,” Mr Nihopara emphasised.
Mr Nihopara said the National Museum has developed a strategic plan for 2016 to 2019 with a vision and mission to cherish, preserve, protect and promote the country’s diverse cultures, ‘worthy’ customs and traditions through sustainable cultural development.
He said as part of this strategic plan, the National Museum intends to advocate and develop human resources to identify, research , manage, interpret and nurture cultural, historical and natural heritage, support and strengthen local, regional and international linkages and furthermore develop appropriate infrastructure and capacity for institutional growth and development.
The Permanent Secretary for Culture and Tourism said the National Museum works with various international and regional organisations of which it holds membership to effectively carry out its important role and also guard against illicit trafficking of cultural materials between Solomon Islands and international markets.
“The National Museum of Solomon Islands is a member of various important international and regional organisations that deals with museums and their roles. Our Museum is a member of the Pacific Islands Museum Association, International Council of Museum and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
“These regional and international bodies had worked closely with the National Museum in terms of monitoring illicit trafficking of cultural materials between host country and the international markets.
“As a member of these organizations, the National Museum of SI will rectify the following Conventions of Agreements: 1970 Convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on stolen or illegally export of cultural object and the 2001 UNESCO convention on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage.
“Once these conventions are ratified by the Solomon Islands Government, our implementation of these Agreements under their terms and conditions will be the responsibility of the National Museum under my Ministry. These are important conventions for us to be part of as they will safeguard our own cultural properties from unlawful purchases of our cultural objects.”