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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Kerstin VOLKER-SAAD, President, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia, Berlin, Germany
Nina MELCHERS, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia, Berlin, Germany
Konrad MELCHERS, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia, Berlin, Germany

Paper presenters:

HIRUY Daniel Tefera; Nina MELCHERS; Kerstin VOLKER-SAAD; HASEN Said; EPHREM Amare; Oliver RUMP;
Iris GERLACH; KASSAYE Begashaw; MEAZA Hezkeias; BEREKET Debebe; TEMESGEN Burka;
BEREKET Zewdie Negash

Culture and development is a neglected issue in the development discourse and even more in culture discourses. In recent times UNCTAD, UNDP und UNESCO have given the issue special attention focusing on “creative industries”. Museums and development as a sub-issue is almost overlooked despite the fact that museums in industrial countries have become an important factor in the tourist industry. Museums have greatly contributed to tourism becoming the biggest economic sector in cities like Paris, London or Berlin. The reason is that museums have undergone dramatic changes from “prisons of artefacts” to public centres of culture with booming museum shops. Revenues from museum shops often exceed incomes from ticket sales.

Ca 100 museums exist in Ethiopia, most of them about the cultural history of Ethiopia. Some are very small, attached to monasteries and old churches. A few museums are about the political history of Ethiopia like the Red Terror Martyrs’ Memorial Museum in Addis Ababa or the Martyrs Museum in Mekelle. Recently some are conceived as social and cultural centres of certain regions like the “South Omo Research Centre and Museum” or the “Oromo Cultural Centre”, Addis Ababa. Very few are about certain economic activities like the Coffee Museum, Bonga or the planned Aviation Museum of Ethiopian. The Wukro Museum also intends to become a cultural centre of the Wukro community and it has a small museum shop.

The organizer of the panel will be the Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia represented by Dr. Kerstin Volker-Saad, President, Nina Melchers, CEO and Dr. Konrad Melchers. We will call for papers from: lecturers on museology at Mekelle and Addis Ababa University, responsible administrators of Ethiopian museums and Ethiopian national and regional culture departments, experts of the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM), ICOM and the Ethiopian Museums Support Association (EMSA).



HAILAY Teklay, Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau

In this presentation I will discuss the immense potential of archaeology spread out across Tigray, from the Pre-Aksumite, to Aksumite and Post-Aksumite periods for the expansion of museums in Tigray. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the region of Tigray/Ethiopia has been attracting many archaeologists. However, in the last ten to fifteen years, research activities were intensified in amount and coverage. The above-mentioned investigations have been carried out both by national and international experts. As the result of the recent discoveries; the history of Tigray/Ethiopia goes back as far as the beginning the first millennium BC, and enormous elaborate objects were unearthed in several archaeological sites. Side by side, parts of the sites are developed into kinds of open-air museum attractions. The discovery of plenty of splendid objects becomes a golden opportunity for the construction of new archaeology-focused museums. The successfully built and officially opened museums (Aksum and Wukro), museums under construction (Yeha and Adigrat) and future plans related to archaeological museums will be discussed.



Blair PRIDAY, Director
Judith VAN HELDEN, Administrator
Cathy GIANGRANDE, Trustee

The Holy Trinity church is at the center of Cheleqot and forms the heart of the community. The church was built and consecrated in 1793 (1785 Ethiopian calendar) and the murals, painted in the second Gondarine style by the famous Aleqa Hailu, are of the highest quality. The church collection represents a unique mixture of some of the finest Ethiopian works of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These include early manuscripts and most unexpectedly, British pieces, many of which are gifts from King George III. This important collection of church treasures is not on display but rather kept in the church, where clergy and village community have kept them together for 200 years. The village reached out to the Ethiopian Heritage Fund to help create a museum to display this special collection. At the moment Cheleqot, a small village not far from Mekelle, does not benefit from Ethiopia’s increasing tourism. A small well-run museum could change this and help attract tourists to the church and village. As a result of this the community has an opportunity to benefit from the economic impact. The local community, led by the church curator, initiated the project and is very involved and keen to make a success of it. In our talk we will focus on how the Ethiopian Heritage Fund in collaboration with the community will curate and install the exhibition, create promotional material, and raise awareness through the use of tour operators to increase tourism in the area. We will show how a whole village can benefit from the museum and the economical, social and educational opportunities it creates.



Julia SATTLER, Goethe Institute Addis Ababa

Spillover is a process by which an activity in one area has a subsequent broader impact on places, society, or the economy through the overflow of concepts, ideas, skills, knowledge and different types of capital. Since 2015 the platform “European Research Partnership on Cultural and Creative Spillovers” investigates in the whole value of the arts, culture and creative industries and how investment in the arts is achieving social and economic impact.
There is growing international interest in the potential of the cultural and creative industries to drive sustainable development and create inclusive job opportunities. But there are also “intrinsic” values and aims of culture like: to entertain, to delight, to challenge, to give meaning, to interpret, to raise awareness, and to stimulate. These non-market values are difficult to measure in monetary terms, but are just as important as the instrumental values. The “Report on a preliminary evidence review of cultural and creative spillovers in Europe” from 2015 introduces three different types of spillover (Knowledge, Industry and Network) and 17 sub-categories where evidence is demonstrated most frequently. Amongst them e.g.
- Increasing visibility, tolerance and exchange between communities
- Increase in employability and skills development in society,
- Strengthening cross-border and cross-sector collaborations
- Stimulating private and foreign investment
- Boosting innovation and digital technology
- Improving health and wellbeing
- Stimulating urban development, regeneration and infrastructure
- Creating an attractive ecosystem and creative milieu, city branding and place making
The report is based on an evidence library of almost 100 reports, studies and evaluations that describe the impacts of culture and creative spillovers.



Konrad MELCHERS, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia

In the paper I will argue for an Ethiopian business-based fund for the preservation of Ethiopian cultural and natural heritage. I will review the discourse about business and philanthropy, charity, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. This review will identify business cases that show win-win situations between the support of preserving heritage by companies and their commercial viability. For such cases it may be essential to develop a common ethical standard and a common brand for Ethiopian products potentially benefitting from such win-win situations. The ethical standard may be built on the experience of the internationally accepted standards such as fair-trade, organic certification and the 10 principles of the UNGlobalCompact. The brand name may reflect the heritage preservation aim and should be attractive for international tourists looking for souvenirs. Similarly it should support the international marketing of the products of the scheme. Thus some Ethiopian souvenir products benefitting from the ethical standards and the brand name may become internationally marketed general consumer goods such as: coffee, coffee flower honey, perfumes, balsam, wellness and beauty culture products, herbal pharmaceuticals, traditional Ethiopian coffee energy bars (Buna Quela), herbal teas, in particular traditional Ethiopian coffee leaf tea (Kuti), other drinks, fashion and apparels in general, shoes and other leather products, toys, music discs etc.I will discuss, whether the brand name “Queen of Sheba/Saba” fulfils these criteria best. Another area of discussion will be the priorities for Ethiopian heritage preservation in the context of need of support and of maximum support of marketing. Two beneficiaries of the heritage fund are outstanding: museums and the pristine coffee forests. Museum shops may become important first outlets for products that have a global marketing potential.Finally it will be discussed, how an Ethiopian heritage fund could be established becoming the financial cornerstone of an Ethiopian National Trust, in which all stakeholders are represented.



HIRUY Daniel Tefera, Jinka University, Ethiopia

Today, in an era where development issues have taken center stage in justifying government policies and in measuring the values of institutions, it has become fashionable to rationalize the maintenance of cultural institutions such as museums by articulating its social and economic benefits. In developed countries, governments are building and expanding museums for hosting blockbuster exhibition and cultural events not just for the traditional reasons like the preservation of collections and scientific research, but most importantly to rebrand and rejuvenate cities and regions thereby attracting tourists searching for compelling destinations and businesses hoping to cash in from the vibe. At the same time museums are engaging the community they serve by entering in the domain of civil society and spawning social capital and goodwill. When we come to Ethiopia, over the last 70 years, museums were established at the national and regional level for the main purpose of collecting and preserving artifacts and ecofacts deemed to have scientific value as well as being representative of the people and of the land. With the introduction of federal form of government in the 1990s, the country has recently experienced an increase in the number of museums as regions vie to establish museums that represent their identity and culture. Nevertheless after the hoopla, excitement and commotion surrounding their establishments, many of the museums face difficulties in sustaining their existence as they are established without much reflection on functionality, governance and secured source of funds. Apart from representing the regional/national identities in museum spaces, the cultural institution, with some exceptions, have very little role in mobilizing the communities' cultural creativities and utilizing culture towards poverty alleviation, social progress, and sustainable development. This paper presents a critical overview of how past and current government policies have shaped the mission and governance of museums in Ethiopia. It explores the economic role that museums in the future could play provided there is supportive policy as well as appropriate management and governance system.



Nina MELCHERS, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia

In October 2015 the Wukro Museum opened its doors to the public after six years of intensive cooperation between Ethiopian and German partners on very many levels and in a multitude of fields.The paper will give an overview of the genesis of the museum in its three phases; I will introduce the partners and discuss the decision making processes, the successes and the failures or better: lessons learned. At the very beginning there is the decision for the establishment in Wukro, a small town in Tigrai, and it continues with the development of the museum concept, the architectural design, the cost sharing and financial agreements, the construction and supervision process for the buildings. Parallel to and after the construction phase the inner life of the museum was developed, that is the conservation of the objects and the exhibition design, with new partners from Ethiopian and German universities, workshops and companies on board, on local as well as national levels.Now that the Wukro Museum has been running successfully for two years, the cooperation continues in fields like capacity building, networking and promotion.



Kerstin VOLKER-SAAD, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia

This keynote speech will address the issue of the development of museums in Germany/Europe from private, princely or church collections of curiosities and natural “wonders” to the contemporary form of modern museums as institutions and as virtual entities. Early collections of the 16th century were only accessible to a privileged public, the collections served to increase the image of the collector as wealthy, worldly and sophisticated. The rise of presenting collections to the public occurred at the beginning of the 19th century which resulted in the foundation of specific subject museums. The change of ownership from private to public museum, mostly in the 20th century, had implications for the way a museum had to finance itself and its aims: collecting, conserving, researching, presenting. With this in mind, I will look at the situation of museums in Ethiopia, briefly reflect their beginnings and their development as well as status quo. Museums are in Europe and they may become in Ethiopia a place where not only heritage is preserved but also knowledge is shared, ideally it is a forum where innovative ideas are being produced. Museums as hotspots, places of interest and a factor for economic growth and with the digitalization of museum collections as well as virtual walks through exhibitions, the next step has been done towards a new paradigm for dealing with cultural heritage.



HASEN Said, Addis Ababa University IES, Ethiopia

The history and development of museum establishments in Africa are generally considered as colonial enterprises. This characterization covers the timeframe from the end of 19th century to the early stage of the 1960s. In those days, museums used to be established merely to narrate the so-called civilization efforts of the colonial powers. That is why their storylines begin with the arrival of white colonizers, be it military personnel, missionary priests or geology explorers.The trend in Ethiopia was quite similar except that Ethiopia was not a colonized state in many ways, at least during the inception period. Both the National Museum of Ethiopia and Addis Ababa Universities (Institute of Ethiopian Studies Museum and the Natural History Museum) were established not as a result of socio-economic necessity, but rather initiated by expatriate personnel. However, these trends have been dramatically changed since the Ethiopian millennium celebration, which took place in 2000.Not only has the number of museums increased significantly, but they are also distributed more evenly. More importantly these museums have displayed their diverse nature in terms of custodianship and content, to the extent that there are now specialized museums, such as the National Coffee Museum of Bonga and the National Honey Museum in Lalibela.Therefore, this paper will attempt to assess the circumstances under which Ethiopian museums evolved and how they subsequently developed, including identification of aspects in which they have contributed towards regional development endeavors so far.



EPHREM Amare, National Museum of Ethiopia/Authority for the Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage

Museum development In Ethiopia is a recent phenomenon of the first half of the twentieth century compared with more than three centuries of Ethiopia’s cultural history. Indeed there had been long traditions of Ethiopians and religious institutions, especially the Ethiopian Orthodox church, preserving precious materials, inherited or donated royal artifacts and ceremonial treasures, manuscripts and religious objects kept in churches, warehouses, and individual houses. Collections of artifacts and display to the public were initiated by Emperor Hailselassie in 1944, where the first exhibition of royal treasures was opened in the building of the National Archives and Library. By then, more than 200 ceremonial royal objects of the emperor, the royal family and the nobility were permitted for public exhibition. In 1952, a cultural agreement was signed between Ethiopia and France and as a result the Institute of Archaeology was set up and conducted a research excavation in the northern part of Ethiopia which led to a discovery of valuable antiquities. This event further transformed the concept of museum collections beyond mere royal treasure to the collection of archaeological discoveries and cultural artifacts. The gradual expansion of international research in the fields of paleontology and archaeology in the Omo Valley, upper and lower Awash and the subsequent discoveries of fossils added to the collection of the National Museum of Ethiopia which contributed to the growth and recognition of the National Museum. From the 1960s onwards, museums have been expanded in Addis Ababa and in the Regions. The Ethnography Museum of the Ethiopian Studies, the Aksum Archaeological Museum, the museums of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, ethnographical museums in Dessie, Mekelle, Jimma and Nekemte were among the early museums of the country. Currently with the new political developments and changes in the country, as the constitution and the cultural policies encourage the rights of people to identify, register, research and collect their cultural heritages, there have been growing demands and public interests which led to the expansion of museums in all the country with a variety of collections in the field of paleontology, archaeology and ethnography.



Oliver RUMP, Berlin, Germany, Specialist for Museum Management and Political Museology, Consultant for Museums

Museums are increasingly becoming economic units. Although being NGO’s per ICOM / UNESCO definition and being restricted in economic activities by the additional ‚code of ethics‘, many newer, modern, and private museums nonetheless detach from these standards.To meet both their own professional standard and economic demands, a value oriented management will be helpful. Resources therefore need to be focused in their entirety, wich includes finances and human resources, as well as symbolic capital (reputation) and relational capital (cooperation).



Iris GERLACH, German Archaeological Institute, Orient Department, Sanaa Branch

The northern Horn of Africa was not an isolated area in ancient times, but instead was part of various mobility systems such as migrations of peoples, trade and exchange. Accordingly, in prehistoric times as well as from the 1st millennium BC onwards regional and supra-regional interaction routes connected the Ethiopian highlands with the Near East (especially South Arabia) extending as far as Rome, Greece and India via the Red Sea, but also with the African continent. Especially the beginning of the 1st millennium BC marks a process of dynamic cultural development on the northern Horn of Africa, which led to the formation of a complex society. A new polity emerged in the Abyssinian highlands, which is named Di´amat in inscriptions of the 8th/7th centuries BC. Basing on written evidence as well as monumental architecture the site of Yeha, located 35 km east of Aksum, can be viewed not only as an administrative and political center, but also as the religious centre of Di´amat.Research on the ancient cultural sphere of Yeha is the focal point of the Ethiopian-German joint project, which is being conducted by the Authority of Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) and the Tigrai Culture and Tourism Bureau (TCTB) in cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute (Berlin) and the Friedrich Schiller University (Jena). In addition to scientific research and restoration measures, also cultural political endeavors are being realized in Yeha such as the conduction of various educational programs at the site and the establishment of an archaeological museum. This museum was built in cooperation with the Ethiopian and German partners on the church compound of Yeha near to the Great Temple and consists of three rooms with together 100 m² exhibition space. The paper will present the architectural conception of the museum, the construction work as well as the development of the exhibition concept.



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.



MEAZA Hezkeias, Palace Museum and Heritage Preservation Directorate

This paper attempts to address the challenges that will be encountered in the course of the Opening of Menelik II Grand’s Palace as a living-museum. Throughout Menelik’s and his successors periods a multitude of buildings of various sizes and functions were added to the compound; nevertheless, only ten buildings remain as a legacy. In the course of its 130 years of existence, it has remained a legendary palace to all rulers, heads of state and prime ministers of the country. In addition, the opening of Menelik’s Palace Museum to the general public has become a subject of passionate discussion for this reason. With proclamation No.459/2005, the Palace Administration was given the legal right to conserve the heritage and open the palace to the public for museum and research purposes. So the Palace Administration is expected to establish a well-organized living-palace museum. Hence, PA must restore ten building complexes, historical gets and the first water reservoir in order to preserve the architectural integrity and historical value of the palace for generations to come, as well as open the complex to the public. In view of this, the opening of Menelik II Grand’s Palace Museum for the public is an overdue project. Many of the Palace collections were not collected following clear procedures and policies. The majority of the collections are actually owned by other institutions. The documentation and inventory of the collections have not been made according to the museums' standard. In addition, security and exhibition systems as well as an organizational structure to perform museum activities are not adequately planned. This paper thus recommends that the organizational structure of the PA must be revised; the structure shall clearly define the distinct museum governance and curatorial activities. In order to realize conventionally accepted values attributed to a Palace Museum, the PA shall develop sustainable and effective management plans that are compatible with the vision, mission and structure of the organization as a whole. All the conserved ten historical old buildings of the emperors are better if they are functional either as showing rooms or debating and research rooms or repository and minor laboratory rooms for artifacts according to their fitness and history.



BEREKET Debebe, Addis Ababa university
TEMESGEN Burka, Addis Ababa university

The principal task of a National Museum in the 21st century is not only to preserve and display its collection but also it must be a place to help the community shape its identity and bring different ethnic and cultural groups together. In addition, it can also be a catalyst for regeneration through the creation of new venues and civic spaces, and a resource for developing the skills and confidence of members of those ethnic groups/communities. Therefore, National Museums are gradually recognizing the need to go beyond collection, conservation and education of tangible heritage. In multi-ethnic societies peoples need to be properly represented and presented with their collection in the museum. This is the fact that National Museum of Ethiopia either implicitly or explicitly denies the opportunities for balanced representation and presentation of various ethnic groups and their identities.The question of representation in the National Museum of Ethiopia (NME) is currently becoming a controversial issue among the multi-cultural societies in Ethiopia. Mainly, the need of representation is critical among the societies which were less influential in politics and government since the NME was founded in 1944. This paper argues that the solution for such issues of Poetics (sensitive) and Politics of culture of the museum and its failure to serve the interest of the Ethiopian society.



BEREKET Zewdie Negash, Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage

The ethnographic collection is one of the most important items in the museum collection. They are the parts of tangible and movable material cultures; moreover, the ethnographic collections are powerful in revealing the identity, tolerance, peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding among the communities. The “National Museum of Ethiopia” since its establishment in 1940s has over the years acquired a lot of collections as part its museum activities. Among its important collection are its ethnographic objects. Up to now few researchers have dealt with issues concerning the ethnographic collection at the museum. This paper will highlight the current status of ethnographic collection at the “NME” by examining the effectiveness of the existing collection management in comparison to the required international standard in object collection management.