TEFAF SUPPORTS THE PRINCE CLAUS FUND TO HELP SAVE SUDAN’S DIVERSE HERITAGE
For over a decade TEFAF has supported the Cultural Emergency Response (CER) program run by the Prince Claus Fund, which seeks to protect cultural heritage by providing ‘first aid’ to rescue heritage threatened by man-made or natural disasters. The Prince Claus Fund supports, connects and celebrates artists and cultural practitioners where cultural expression is under pressure. This year, TEFAF and the Prince Claus Fund have worked together to support three community museums in Sudan, a country whose internal conflicts pose a recurring threat to the country’s rich, cultural heritage.
SAVING SUDAN’S DIVERSE HERITAGE
The collections in Al Khalifa House in Omdurman, the Al Shaikan Museum in El Obeid, and the Darfur Museum in Nyala are unique. The building of Al Khalifa House is itself a cultural heritage site, one of the last remaining buildings of the Ottoman period, it contains important collections that record the lives of the peoples who helped to form the country and create modern Sudan.
All three museums are home to important artefacts, handicrafts and documents that date back to the end of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the founding of the Sudanese nation. The museums also have a strong ethnographic component that highlight local cultures and act as hubs for educational activities and cultural festivals for refugees in Western Sudan as well as various local communities. The museums encourage community interaction with and participation in dance, music, as well as other cultural forms.
In recent years, clashes between rival nomadic groups, the conflict in the Darfur region, and a civil war resulting in the independence of South Sudan have contributed to instability in the country and the vulnerability of its cultural institutions.
The three museums have faced particular challenges: Al Khalifa House experienced the city’s invasion by the government opposition group JEM in 2008, and its structure has still not recovered. The Al Khalifa House and the Darfur Museum both have structural vulnerabilities that pose a security threat and make them susceptible to looting. Recent riots and unrest in El Obeid have posed a threat to the third museum, Al Shaikan.
SUCCESSFUL FIRST STEPS
NCAM (the National Corporation for Antiquities and Monuments) sought assistance to improve security, and to protect and preserve the collections with better storage and display conditions. In addition, they requested a training workshop on first aid to cultural heritage for museum staff and volunteers from each of the different regions.
Additional financial support will help secure these three museums and engage their communities, so their collections remain an important source of information and pride for generations to come.