Creating a Living History Museum

A museum is a place where you can find out about history. Traditional museums store and display objects which give an idea of how people lived in the past. Most museums are divided into sections, according to what is being displayed. Many museums are divided into parts showing what life was like in different time periods from the stone age, through the metalworking age (bronze and iron) and so on to modern times. Where different parts of a country have different traditions, the museum might show life in each region. A museum might also specialise in specific themes, such as the way people live and work through the ages, clothing and costumes or even the art and music of different eras.

The Uganda Museum on Kitante Hill, Kampala (above) has a large collection of artefacts from different periods in Uganda’s past. There are displays showing life in early stone and iron-age Uganda. A display shows iron smelting using bellows, which started well over two thousand years ago in Uganda, between the first and fourth century BCE. Other displays show weapons used for hunting and fighting, farm implements, clothing and musical instruments. The museum is very much a living museum. It has regular demonstrations where, for example, musicians play traditional instruments. There are also displays showing the natural history of Uganda. The museum, for example, has a large collection of butterflies that are native to Uganda.

Activity 1: Photo Identification

Below are two photographs of articles in display cabinets at the Uganda Museum. Look at the pictures carefully and see how many of the items you can identify.

Activity 2: Help us to Create a Virtual Museum of Living History

Would you help us to create a virtual museum on this website? Together we can record life in Uganda during the memory of those people living now, including you, your parents, grandparents and extended family?

You can do this as a class activity.

Ask different people to propose objects to place in the museum that will help people in future to understand what life is like now and in the recent past. You could have a number of sessions to discuss what you are going to include. Each session could take a different theme, such as:

  • How we make a living.
  • The food we eat.
  • How we grow food, and what implements we use.
  • How we prepare food to eat, with pictures of cooking pots and implements.
  • How we cook food. (What about including some recipes?)
  • The clothes we wear, and where we get them.
  • Our houses and what is inside them – furniture etc.
  • The ceremonies we have, weddings, funerals, baby naming.
  • The conventions we have when naming children, e.g. use of clan names.
  • The games people play, young and old.
  • The music and songs that people make and listen to.
  • The way people use radios and T.V.s – what they listen to and watch.
  • How people use mobile phones and the difference they have made to their lives.
  • Shopping – where do people shop and what do they buy?
  • Other things…

Once you have decided on what you would like to include in your museum, take some photographs with a camera or phone. Your pictures will take the place of displays in the museum. If you look carefully at the pictures of the cabinets in the Uganda Museum, you will see that each object or set of objects has some printed information about it. In our virtual museum we also need you to write something about each object. The material on this website will be seen by people all over Uganda and all over the world, now and in the future.  So, we need to give them as full and accurate a picture of what life is like in Uganda as possible. We need lots and lots of photographs and interesting notes to explain each one.

By creating this virtual museum, you will be helping to preserve Uganda’s history for the benefit of people to come.

Two items you might want to include in your virtual museum are the radio and the TV.

Perhaps you could find out when people in your family first had access to each of these. What programmes do they listen to on radio?  What do they watch on TV?

How have both affected their lives? Do young and old listen to and watch the same things? When you have interviewed some people write some information to go with each picture.

What other items will you add to this Virtual Museum of Living History?

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