As the pandemic has continued to rage on, many different sectors and institutions in our society were hit, including UP’s own UP Museums. With the loss of contact lessons, the UP Museums lost their engagement with the public, forcing them to expedite their plans to increase their digital presence. Due to this loss, regaining any kind of contact with the greater public has been their number one priority, which was done through opening the museum during times sanctioned by the government during the periods of 1 February to 14 June and 1 October to the present day. Museum visits are currently managed by appointment only when the museum is open, which is from Monday through to Friday from 08:00 to 13:00, and can be booked through their website.
However, during times where physical contact was prohibited, UP Museums took to online platforms to continue engaging with the public. They posted articles, online puzzles and artworks all throughout last year, but with the move to 2021, they shifted their tactics to more immersive ones, including digital presentations on platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
One of the museum’s goals was to expand their Mapungubwe exhibition. The exhibition, which has been spoken about at length by the museum’s interpretive officer, Nicole Hoffman, is located at the UP Museums as UP is the official steward of the collection. The museum hoped to expand the exhibition to include a bead gallery but was unfortunately delayed due to financial reasons. However, with all this need to shift to a digital platform, the museum became the first African museum to make its collection available online for the exploration of the greater public via the Google Arts and Culture platform on 11 August.
Once the university opens again, the UP Museums hopes to continue physical engagement with the public, both in the university and out, and to work with the university’s disability unit again to offer a quality experience to all staff and students with special needs.
Photo: Ruth Versfeld