Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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KASSAYE Begashaw, Addis Ababa University, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management, Ethiopia

Nowadays the world of museums has changed significantly in terms of visions, objectives, procedures, policies, networking and partnerships. All of these changes are geared towards making museums centers for dialogue and interactions to satisfy the need and interest of modern societies so as to reveal aspects of the long previous journey of humanity. In view of this, museums have become places for visitors to understand continuity and change in our past legacy; we can see what has been practiced by our ancestors and handed down by tradition on the road to becoming what we are today. As a result of this, many developed and developing nations have been engaged in building museums to allow their citizens to hear the voices of museums about shared history and culture, traditions, values, memories and their contribution for sustainable development. Ethiopia is the home of many past legacies. It is the cradle of mankind and formation of early states. It had early writing and development of art, craft and architecture in massive structures. Indigenous languages and religious beliefs have made the country important in material and spiritual heritage of the world. However, it is unfortunate that Ethiopian cultural institutions have so far failed Ethiopian citizens by not communicating their past deeply and jointly because of the absence of organized and well-developed museums which could play decisive roles by displaying the precious past legacy through their collections. We should not also forget that one community’s past may be another community’s lamented tragedy. Generally, museums are interactive forums for learning from past experience that various communities of the county walked jointly to construct a common house for a common future. This is very critical in understanding what should determine the making and unmaking of our country’s destination by teaching the present and future generations to co-exist and live in harmony and tolerance. In view this, the priority need for museums in modern society like ours is unquestionable, particularly at this period of political and socio-economic transformation is taking place in the country. In light of this, one may ask “what kind of museums does Ethiopia needs today?” The response to this question demands an entire review of current heritage management and replacement by a new proactive system that can carry out dynamic and flexible programs and activities that will recognize change and appreciate diversity. This paper therefore discuses the most critical problem of how to disseminate the past legacy to the general public though museum exhibits. This requires new thinking and an approach that goes beyond simple museum display and interpretations. It embraces a variety of new concerns and perspectives that need to be addressed in order to attain our shared values and that promote the unity and integration of our nation. This is our time to invest in our past and on our museums. We will all happy if all Ethiopians experience the joy of our past and museums contribute to our living in harmony and tolerance.