African and European museum directors pledge to cooperate at Dakar conference

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Museum directors from 38 countries in Africa and Europe agreed to “build a common future” and strengthen cooperation including joint travelling exhibitions in a declaration adopted at a conference at the Museum of Black Civilisations in Dakar, Senegal, last week.

Sixty museum directors from 28 African countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Uganda, and ten European countries including Belgium, France, Germany and the UK pledged to “mobilise our efforts to document, preserve and reinterpret with the communities, collections in Africa and Europe and make them available to the public through digitisation, research, education and exhibitions.”

The three-day conference was envisaged as the foundation of a network spanning both continents and was planned in September last year during the opening of the final sections of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. Areas for future cooperation include restitution, digitisation of collections, research, education and exhibitions, according to a statement issued by Berlin’s Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, one of the initiators of the conference.

“A network was born in Dakar; a forum allowing museums and partners to forge a shared future,” says Hamady Bocoum, the director of the Museum of Black Civilisations. It was, he says, “a big step forward, with a long and exciting road ahead of us to foster mutual understanding.”

Other backers of the conference were the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Humboldt Forum Foundation, the Goethe Institute and the Institut Francais in Senegal.

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