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IMD2020 Think Piece by Raphael Chikuwa, Acting Director, National Gallery of Zimbabwe

International Museum Day (IMD) takes place on Monday 18 May 2020.  The theme selected by ICOM for 2020 is Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion.  Visit ICOM’s IMD website for more information on the theme and to see the map of events taking place digitally across the world

To mark IMD2020, ICOM UK and the British Council have invited contributors engaged in the discussion on diversity and inclusion to contribute a short think piece.

In the coming weeks over a dozen of these specially commissioned thought pieces will go live on the ICOM UK website.  Well known contributors include Gus Casely-Hayford, Director V&A East, London and Raphael Chikukwa, Acting Director, National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Below is the second Think Piece, written by Raphael Chikukwa, Acting Director, National Gallery of Zimbabwe.  All of the Think Pieces and other IMD2020 activities organised by ICOM UK and the British Council will be collated on the IMD2020 page of the ICOM UK website.  Take a look today to see how you can contribute to IMD2020

Raphael Chikuwa, Acting Director, National Gallery of Zimbabwe sets out the challenges his galleries are facing in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare to deliver digital change.

The question that keeps ringing in my head is, “How can the National Gallery of Zimbabwe sustain itself during the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath?  Museums Directors in the West can dip into the reserves and what about us here in Africa and the need to adapt to new digital audiences?  The recent Zoom Harare conversation we hosted with local and international colleagues attending went well.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe is a national treasure but we have no reserves and although we have worked for years on shoestring budgets, this time is different.  We are urgently looking for funds for the Digital Back Office and we sending out an appeal to help support servers for our three galleries Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare.  Any advice from ICOM UK members would be warmly welcome.

We know it is time to “rethink, refocus and recreate in a more radical way looking into the future of our public institutions“ and have identified our key strategic priorities.  Zimbabwe’s National Gallery must start building the ideas and responses needed to transform itself and meet future challenges.  We must deliver a reflection process to re-imagine ourselves, inspired by our mission and in response to the new normal.  Our most important challenge however is the need to boost our digital presence and set up a “Digital Back Office”.  Taking the National Gallery of Zimbabwe to this new reality we need a gallery without walls and physical boundaries.