Africa and museums: shaping the future; rethinking the past

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I just on your lawson. The founding director of the paloma in togo and andrew santo. Who's just written a book with twenty eight interviews with museum leaders across the world. I also speak to. Dan hicks about his book. The british museum's about the bronzes and for our work the week christopher repeal of the national gallery in london talks about san mateo painting of copernicus. That's coming to the national for an exhibition next year before that a reminder that you can sign up for the art newspapers free daily newsletter for all the latest stories goes to the art newspaper dot com and the link is at the top right of the page. And while you're there you can also sign up for a range of other newsletters including the book club and the art market. I now a new book by the writer and cultural strategy advisor andhra santo features twenty eight conversations with directors of museums and other institutions oldham during the covid nineteen pandemic the future of the museum. Twenty eight dialogues. Include voices from across the world attempting to define museums and the challenges and opportunities ahead of them now and in the coming days among them. Direct is of african museums including sonia lawson the director of the paladin loma in togo in west africa. Andress and sonia join me to discuss the role of museums today and look at how sonya's togalese institution reflects a new coq drew dynamism on the african continent andress. I wanted to begin by asking you. This book was written on zoom. Just as we are now essentially so you talked to twenty eight museum or cultural institution directors about what they were doing. It happened to be done in the covy deer as it were but was it. Germinating is an idea for a much longer period this spring. I wrote an article in art. Net news actually wrote it over easter weekend. So i remember did very well I guess that was early april. I can't remember the exact dates and it was an article about reopening museums. And it just hit a nerve. It really got a lot of people talking at the time. And i heard from dozens and dozens of museum directors and just became part of illogic conversation. And that's when we really realized that this is the moment because it gave us an editorial frame because it it really was a moment that made us ask what is the future about. Still trying to figure it out. I think there's no doubt in all of our minds that this is one of those years in the calendar that will be a turning point. A historical marker where new phase is beginning persona. I think this phase is the one that started in one thousand nine hundred eighty nine just ended. Now we have a new face. So what does that mean for museums. Once i figured out that this would be a book not just of conversations with museum. Directors conversations about the future not necessarily revisiting. Why museums have been great in the past of which many reasons to talk about that too but to really have a forward-looking and that is what led to choices like this extraordinary new institution in togo. Which i think is such a taste of where museums or cultural institutions or cultural centers are headed All around the world so so in a way this moment. This covert moment crystallized. How such a book could come about and how we would choose directors to be in it before we speak specifically about sons institution. I wanted to ask you about a phrase that you use in the to the book where you talk about how. The paradigm smashing experimentation in museums and cultural institutions is happening in effectively in the global south so in africa in asia in latin america. Can you expand on that a bit now. Because what do you think lies behind that. Well first of all i. That's not to say it's not happening elsewhere. And i think the book provides lots of examples of how people are thinking you in original ways about museums all around the world. But i think that there are perhaps two main reasons. Why so many of these truly interesting. And i would say inspiring. Examples of new practices are often happening in the global. South one is that many of these institutions are brand new. So it's you can speak to this. They have an opportunity to really design for the now and for the future. They're not dealing with a legacy infrastructure. They're not trying to retrofit something. That was already there and tried to adapt it to the future.

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