Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards.
By Edmund Connolly, on 7 August 2013
Reflecting on the past year for the Cultural Heritage Fellowship I am writing another post cataloguing our two final fellows, Sonia Slim (Tunisia) and Ramdane Kamal (Algeria).
Sonia is a Chief Architect at the National Institute of Heritage, with an extensive background of work and study in architecture and conservation, and archaeological site management which offered her a very unique and refreshing approach to the concept of community engagement in heritage. Her previous projects included monitoring the site of Dar Rashid and she oversaw the studies for the conversion of the opulent Ksar Said palace to the Museum of Tunisia’s Contemporary History Museum. Sonia has a very firm belief that architects should be of service to society and can help develop spaces to be of more use and appropriated by the public. Coming with such a firm belief in community engagement and services Sonia easily transitioned from the training weeks in the UK to her own project in Tunisia.
Inspired by our visit to the Camden Arts Centre and the educations team’s work at Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Sonia is developing two projects that will engage a new, younger audience with vibrant themes found within the collection, married with the national curriculum.
Her first project is to create thematic tours for children who are visiting the museum with their schools or with their parents.
Each theme is developed in a bespoke manner geared towards a specific age group:
- Topic 01: the four seasons (5 to 7 years old)
- Topic 02: the animals (6 to 9 years old)
- Topic 03: the roman games (8 to 11 years old)
- Topic 04: the legend, god and goddess (10 to 14 years old)
This project is already a real success as it takes into account the need to not only relate materials to a specific curriculum based topic, but that different age groups will require a different set of materials and interpretation. Using the museum’s world famous mosaic collection, Sonia seeks to:
“invite groups of pupils/kids to choose a topic according to their interest and the museum’s education agent will make the circuit for them…He/she will invite kids to observe the details on the mosaic using games related to the object and the topic…” (S. Slim, 2013)
Her second project is a loan box she called “play with Punics”. Sonia has designed a box which contains five replicas of objects from the Punic Bardo collection and will be used externally to the Bardo Museum. It will allow children from economically deprived schools or orphanages to access the collection, beyond the museum confines. By handling these objects and having access to the information the children will gain a feeling of social justice and ownership. The box is ready to be used for the next school year.
Kamal Ramdane is our Algerian Fellow, who has a vested interest in the development and protection of the UNESCO protected site, the M’zab Valley. Kamal graduated with a degree in archaeology from the University of Algiers and in 1996 became Head of Archives and Research at the OPVM (The Office for the Promotion and Protection of the M’zab Valley). Kamal is executing his community engagement project with the Museum of El Atteuf where he volunteers as an external projects co-ordinator.
Kamal appreciates the economic value that the Algerian heritage holds, working as an instructor in the National Institute of Tourism, as well as being a national tour guide for 9 years. Kamal has been active on the international heritage scene, working alongside the World Heritage Foundation, Museum with Borders and Montada.
More locally, he is very aware of the need to embed the El Atteuf museum within the local community, as well as the international tourist scene. Following a visit from his mentor, Alastair Callaghan (Glasgow Museums), Kamal is focusing on how the museum’s collection can tell stories and help democratise the local community. In November 2013 Kamal seeks to establish a festival of games based on some gaming pieces in the collection. These traditional Algerian games have been forgotten by the younger generations, so this festival seeks to draw the younger and older communities together through cultural learning of a shared history. This will be developed to invite local community members to bring their own games and stories to encourage cross community conversation.”
We have now profiled all of our Fellows, and they are all producing fantastic projects and results. When they return in September we will have a chance to hear from them in person and exhibit the resources and impact they have had at their host institution.