By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
Fiji’s newly re-opened museum is focusing on bringing young people closer to its collection through a pioneering workshop programme called museums, objects, and culture.
The Fiji Museum’s Head of Special Projects, Dr. Katrina Iggleston, says the workshop looks into how youth can be more empowered and engaged in a museum setting, in what can only be described as “linking youths to the museum.”
Iggleston said, “This workshop looks specifically at youth in a museum collection; it really means accessing them and being involved with the work the museum does on a regular basis.”
This work includes handling the collections and learning more about cultural heritage.
“When we think about access, normally, we think about exhibitions or displays that are standing in the middle of future museums, like the new Voyages exhibition, which is wonderful for communities…[but this] is really about learning what goes on behind the scenes and making the museum both a friendly place and also accessible.”
Twelve youths were accepted into the programme and are participating in an in-depth learning experience. But some of them had to first overcome trepidation about the museum and its contents.
“For a long time the museum has been thought of as somewhat of a scary place, or a place that people don’t understand,” Dr Iggleston said.
“When all the youths came in, there was very much an air of aloofness or standoffishness, very quiet and reserved, but it took going into the storage rooms themselves and being surrounded by the collections and being able to touch them to really click in and make that shift,” she explained.
Under the ongoing education program, the museum is also developing a toolkit for persons with disabilities, to improve accessibility of the museum.
Museum Project Assistant, Isireli Racagimalua added, “We also have an archaeological site protection workshop that… will mainly be focused on familiarising ourselves with the work of our archaeological unit in terms of safeguarding our cultural sites..
“The other components of that programme are conversational dialogues where women, indigenous women, cultural experts and communities come together to discuss cultural heritage.”
The youth outreach program is funded by the Australian government. The Voyages exhibition is open now, and other parts of the museum are expected to open later this year.
- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; as well as Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Admission (FJD): $5 for adults (13+) and $2 for children (2-12).