South African Museums Association
Report on 79th SAMA National Conference 2015
“Museums for a sustainable society”
I would like to open my report by thanking the members of the KZN Regional Committee for their very hard work in putting the 2015 National Conference together. They received wonderful assistance from volunteers from a number of our museums, as well as financial funding.
The primary financial support came from the KZN Provincial Department of Arts and Culture, through our very enthusiastic Museum Service. It is heartening for us to know that we have always received backing from them and we are very grateful. The Durban Natural Science Museum, the Durban Local History Museum, the Durban Art Gallery and Msunduzi Museum helped with functions, banners, printing, transport and volunteers, without which we could not have managed.
The Conference was preceded by a Strategic Planning workshop, kindly and efficiently facilitated by James van Vuuren of Amafa. Thank you, James, for your time and trouble. It was hard work but we believe that a great deal was done to re-think SAMA strategies. The task now is to turn the outline into a concrete plan that will take us into the future. The decisions to date were presented to the SAMA membership at the Annual General Meeting during the conference and received approval.
The Conference proper started at an icebreaker hosted by the Durban Art Gallery and Durban Natural Science Museum. The juxtaposition of the museums on two floors of the Durban City Hall allowed delegates the chance to visit both – always interesting to museum practitioners. On Tuesday morning, the first papers were presented after the formal welcome and excellent addresses by president Catherine Snel, The Honourable MEC for Arts and Culture, Mrs N. Sibondla-Saphetha and the keynote speaker, Mr Guy Redman. 129 delegates enjoyed the very good range of papers and excellent facilities and catering at the Riverside Lodge. The Durban Natural Science Museum once again hosted the delegates at a drumming circle that evening – a new experience for many of them.
More excellent papers followed on Wednesday and Thursday, and the latter included the Annual General meeting, where Catherine Snel stepped down as President, to be replaced by Victor Netshiavha. Regina van Vuuren was voted in as the new Vice-President.
The traditional and glamorous Gala Dinner was held at the Riverside Lodge, where delegates enjoyed excellent catering and music in the transformed conference room. This is the second time we have used this venue and still consider it the most outstanding we have found in terms of helpfulness and efficiency. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the awards, carefully adjudicated by Mark Sole and his team, to whom we owe thanks for taking on this difficult task. Awards were given to:
Novice speaker award: Samkelo Giyose
President’s Awward: Leon Steyn
Fitzsimmons Award: Leigh Richards
Designer Awards: Cat A: KwaZulu-Natal Museum Service
Cat B: SA Naval Museum
Cat C: Durban Local History Museum
The last day of conference is traditionally used to visit other museums and places of interest and so organized groups went up to see rock paintings at Giants Castle or to visit the iconic Inanda Seminary, while others went in individual cars to visit their choice of Durban’s many excellent museums.
I would like to conclude by thanking the SAMA National Committee and office for their support and encouragement, and to say a special word of gratitude to our speakers for their professional and informative presentations. While ever we can call upon people of such caliber, we can be assured that museology is not a dead calling. We enjoyed hosting you in our beautiful province and look forward to seeing you again in a few years’ time.