Museums are a critical part of the tourism sector which has been ravaged by the Covid-19 lockdown. With the museums not generating any income for two months now, there is uncertainty due to the global lockdown. This has affected museums in terms of projects and sustainability.
As part of its 2019/2020 plans, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) had branded 16 heritage sites in the following districts; Kamonyi, Muhanga, Ruhango, Huye, Musanze, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Karongi and Nyarugenge in Kigali. “This is towards promoting cultural tourism at national and international level, but most importantly, boost domestic tourism," said David Nkusi, the National Museums of Rwanda Heritage Sites Manager.
This will also diversify tourism products beyond gorilla tourism. “The lockdown affected the timeline as planned, which has also affected the number of sites to be worked on by May,” affirms Jackson Hakiza, RDB’s Product Development Analyst.
Museums closed their doors to public, which negatively affected revenue collections. On average the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) generates around RFW160 million ($170,223) annually.
These rose to RFW180Million ($190,824) in the last ﬁnancial year (2018/19), with the Ethnographic Museum (Huye) leading in collections according to Musoni Patro Elia, INMR's Revenue officer.
With May 18th being the International Museum Day, this year turns out different for Rwanda too, “Museum projects and events like the Permanent exhibition at Kwigira Museum(Rwesero) on ‘Home-Grown Solutions’ were to be mounted and launched, but all activities prior to this launch were halted due to the lockdown,” explains Mr. Nkusi.
“The Kwigira Museum activities are now underway to see that by end of June, the exhibition on Home-Grown Solutions is mounted according Maurice Mugabowagahunde, a focal INMR staff and History Researcher.
So far the content of nine sites have been approved, with designs and production of signage commencing this month, there after installations will be made to different destinations before end of May according to Mr Hakiza.
Six more are hoped to be worked on for content approval in June, while the whole project is targeted for completion before yearend. However, the museums are already ﬁnding ways of not being left out during the partial lockdown, “Through social media platforms, we try to engage our audiences through virtual learning platforms to bring back partial visitor experiences,” said Mr Nkusi.