Uganda Museum wins coveted Getty Foundation Grant, unique design and style to be enhanced

Aerial view of Uganda Museum, in Kampala
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

Kampala – The Uganda Museum has won a prestigious grant from the Getty Foundation, USA through its international “Keeping it Modern Initiative”.

Now in its sixth year, the Getty Foundation, has been offering these grants, and 2020 will be the last year for Keeping It Modern grants. The Uganda Museum is one of the 10 beneficiaries of this grant due to its unique design and style.

Past winners of the award include the Salk Institute in California, the Sydney Opera House and the Robie House by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Due to its prime location from the city centre, the Uganda Museum survived a move that was about to see it give way to a 60-floor sky scrapper dubbed the East Africa Trade Center.

“The Getty Foundation funding is a step towards further protecting the value of the Uganda Museum building from future encroachment,” said Tourism State Minister, Hon Dr Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi who was represented by Ms Rose Mwanja Nkaale, the commissioner for museums and monuments.

“This news comes at a time when the Embassy of Italy with support of the private sector (generous companies like Youma Builders and Equatorial Power renovated the main hall of Uganda Museum to give it a fresh look in time for the Leonardo Opera Omnia Exhibition,” he added.

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Deputy British High Commissioner, Ms Sarah Mann

The deputy British High Commissioner, Ms Sarah Mann was grateful to the Getty Foundation, USA for the support to Uganda Museum and was optimistic it would be good for the country’s cultural heritage.

“We feel closer to this part of Ugandan heritage and hope the exhibits reflect the country and its people in great light,” she added.

Ms. Rose Mwanja Nkaale, Commissioner for Museums and Monuments

On her part, Ms Rose Mwanja said they [Uganda Museum] are going to work with Kampala Capital City Authority and Buganda Kingdom authorities to birth a new culture of architectural conservation of historical buildings.

Ms Doreen Adengo, an architect and one of the experts to champion this project, said that, alongside Rand Eppich and others, they will assess and study the building in order to, “develop a conservation management plan that will guide future interventions, conservation, and maintenance.”

“Other areas of focus will include assessing how to train the museum staff on best ways to monitor the environment both inside and outside so as to protect the museums valuable collections,” Adengo added.

The event was attended by Ms Lilly Ajarova, Uganda Tourism Board’s Chief Executive Officer and Ms Van Orman Carly, the cultural attaché of the US embassy in Kampala among others.

– Uganda Museum –

The Uganda Museum is one of the first modern architectural buildings, with a cast-in-place concrete structure in Kampala. It set the example for other institutional buildings, including the Parliament and National Theatre, and it’s the last intact work of a pioneer of modern architecture, Ernst May who was commissioned by the British Government to plan for the fast growing city of Kampala in 1947.

While the museum’s collection is appreciated by thousands of visitors per month, and attracts international attention, the value of the building itself has long been ignored. The physical aspects of the museum have continued to deteriorate simply because there hasn’t been enough understanding and expertise to study and assess the building. This situation affected not only the image of the museum but also put this valuable asset of Uganda’s heritage at risk.

– Project –

This project will follow the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) charter on principles for the analysis, conservation, and structural restoration of architectural heritage (2003).

The charter recommends a multidisciplinary team, in relation to the type and the scale of the problems which the Uganda Museum has formed.

Museum management along with local architects were recently invited to represent the Uganda Museum at an international symposium in London, at this symposium the history and values of the Uganda Museum were presented along with the issues facing the building.

As a follow up, a two-week training program for stakeholders, engineers and architects will be held at the museum in January 2020 where they will explore the problems and develop preliminary solutions.

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