Sharjah hosts workshop on Western Sudan Community Museums project - GulfToday

Sharjah hosts workshop on Western Sudan Community Museums project

Filling the earth with colour in Sudan.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the Regional Office for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in the Arab Region (ICCROM — Sharjah) in cooperation with the National Cooperation of Antiquities and Museums in Sudan (NCAM) and The Africa Institute, Sharjah, organised a workshop on Western Sudan Community Museums (WSCM) project on December 8 at the Institute.

The workshop shed light on the project launched in 2018 by ICCROM — Sharjah, an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage, in collaboration with various local and international partners and funded by the British Council Cultural Protection Fund and ALIPH Foundation. It aims to address the role of museums as hubs with heritage collections that contribute to peacebuilding and social cohesion.

The three participating museums in the project were the Darfur Community Museum; Sheikan Community Museum and Khalifa House Community Museum, which collectively represent the geography, history and culture of Western Sudan. “The WSCM project has aimed to breathe new life into local museums in Western Sudan by transforming them into community hubs — for gathering, learning, sharing, and growing together.

There is no greater joy than seeing our efforts make a genuine impact on these communities, which will continue to benefit society for years to come. “ICCROM is honoured to have collaborated with our local partner, the National Cooperation of Antiquities and Museums in Sudan, and the British Council in turning this vision into reality,” said Dr. Webber Ndoro, Director of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM).

A view of Khalifa House Community Museum.


Over 30 professionals and personalities involved with cultural affairs in the Arab region in general and Sudan in particular, attended the workshop. Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the Africa Institute in Sharjah; Dr. Salah M. Hassan, Director of the Africa Institute; Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director of the ICCROM - Sharjah; and Dr Ghalia Garelnabi, NCAM Deputy Director, Sudan, were among the speakers. Al Qasimi opened the event by welcoming attendees and participants in the workshop.

She said that “His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah, has always paid great attention to projects and initiatives that are part of his comprehensive vision to consolidate our identity, cultural and human heritage.” Dr. Hassan said: “This event is integral to our mission as a globally-oriented institution dedicated to the study, teaching, and documentation of Africa and its diaspora located in the heart of Sharjah, the capital of culture.”

Dr. Aslan said that “in addition to the importance of preserving and restoring these museums and collections, the real value of this project and its results is represented in reviving the museums and promoting them as centres for social and cultural encounters.” Dr. Garelnabi concluded the opening ceremony by stressing the importance of the project for the history and future of Sudan.

The workshop included three main sessions, each focused on one of the three museums participating in the project. In the first session, speakers focused on the project of restoring the Community Museum of Khalifa House in Omdurman, Khartoum, which is a historical collection of buildings and courtyards from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The presentations focused on several important topics, including history of the museum in promoting peace; the role of conservation in the community museums; the conservation works of the collections; ideas and concepts of the development of the Khalifa House exhibitions; the history and restoration works of Bramble and Baggara House; cleaning large wood historic objects and Horse Armour of the Baggara Knights; the role of institutional partnership in community museums - Ahfad University for Women; and others.

Founded in 1966, Ahfad was the first Sudanese women’s college. The presentations in the second session reviewed the community museum in Shaikan, which includes two exhibitions — the Sudanese archaeological exhibition and the historical exhibition — which consists of artifacts related to the Battle of Shaikan in 1883.

The presentations in this session focused on the development of a role within communities for education, awareness, environment and heritage research; the development of the green heritage programme; the importance of exhibitions and collections and the preservation room; society and the role of the state in North Kordofan; and other topics. The third and final workshop focused on Darfur Museum, which dates back to 2006. The project’s activities included the restoration of the Inspector General’s historic residence; the courtyard re-landscaped to prevent flooding; and took into consideration the display galleries and services which were restored.

The museum is now functional again and the gardens planted with new trees and shelters. The presentations also focused on the importance of heritage to Darfur communities; Darfur Intangible and Tangible Heritage Surveys 2020-22; the Women’s Museum; conservation of Darfur Museum tangible and intangible collections; Green Heritage Survey 2022; and mapping the heritage of Darfur. The workshop ended with the launch of the book and video of “Make a Museum”, and a mesmerising live orchestral concert performed by Sudanese Bait Al Oud — Khartoum, led by Ahmed Shamma and supervised by Dr. Naseer Shamma.

The performances celebrated the culture and music of ‘Oud’, which is considered one of the oldest Arabic musical instruments. In addition to the workshop and musical performances, the event also includes an interactive exhibition at the Africa Institute in Sharjah, which continues till December 12. 


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