Mobile Museum of the Institute of the National Museums of Rwanda (INMR)

(Nov. 11, 2009)

by Karen Knipp-Rentrop, Technical Advisor

The Musée Mobile (Mobile Museum) aspires to promote a culture of peace by encouraging its visitors to live peacefully and to play an active and responsible role in Rwanda's society.

In this sense, peace is nothing abstract to talk about. It is something which is of personal concern for everyone--this is particularly true in the region of the Great Lakes where conflict and war still affect big parts of the population.

In Rwanda, during the Genocide of the Tutsi organised by the Hutu-led government in 1994, more than 1 million people were killed in only 100 days. Luckily, in present-day Rwanda there is no need of actual peace-keeping anymore. However, there's still a way to go to the ideal of a positive and stable peace. A lot of potential problems are still acute--victims, particularly widows and orphans, still suffering the consequences of genocide; families having members in prison for genocide crimes; individuals harbouring extremist ideology; considerable problems related to poverty, to the scarcity of land and to the different backgrounds and experiences of people. Yet, Rwanda's history is much more diverse than the common focus on the 1994 genocide suggests. It is marked by a highly organised society which shares one common language and one culture and which had developed its own ways of living together.

Against this backdrop, the Institute of the National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) launched the project of the Mobile Museum in 2002. It is the first step towards a Museum for Peace. The Musée Mobile contributes to the Rwandan process of reconciliation by engaging in conflict prevention and transformation, by helping people deal and live with the past while always looking to the future. This concern for the future leads it to work mainly with the youth.

Since its relaunch in 2008, the Musée Mobile initiated several activities. On the basis of cultural and historical inputs and different participative activities, it facilitates frank discussions and reflections on the past and the present. Throughout Rwanda, it spreads knowledge on Rwanda's diverse culture and history, transmits cultural values and promotes ideas of unity and reconciliation.

The Musée Mobile's core team consists of two members. However, its activities are implemented in cooperation with partners from other departments of the INMR and local NGOs. This enables the Musée Mobile to reach out even into the hills to meet the population where they actually live.

Some examples of how the Musée Mobile is working are:

Project days encourage young people to learn about the history and culture of their country and to discuss its significance for today and tomorrow. The participants experience Rwanda's rich culture by visiting different branches of the INMR, by conversing with elders and by practicing traditional activities like traditional cooking, sports, dancing, drumming and clothing. Thus, they get to know cultural values which are conveyed by the traditional way of life. In the kitchen, for instance, values like sharing are addressed, while gender questions pop up in the fashion group and team spirit and moral fibre are vividly discussed topics in the dancing group. Moreover, the participants are encouraged to debate controversially about what they learned and practiced. The objective of these project days is to promote a culture of peace by enhancing tolerance, team spirit and dialogue among youth.

Documentary films are produced and presented as a trigger for discussions on traditional ways of living together. A film on traditional schools ("Itorero"), for instance, demonstrates the creation of unity through a common education for the elites in pre-colonial times; another one presents the Rwandan culture of non-violent communication ("Imvugo Nziza"), highlighting the art of conversation practiced in Rwanda which puts an emphasis on quick-witted ripostes and controlled arguments to prove one's self-control even when challenged. These films highlight cultural features which otherwise might be forgotten. The visitors are invited to relate them to their own situation and draw conclusions for the future.

The Musée Mobile continues working mainly with Rwanda's youth by using materials and activities which attract their curiosity and interest like films, arts and sports--all its activities contributing to the establishment of a Museum for Peace which is true-to-life, which is part of the process of promoting a lasting peace.

Address: B.P. 630 Huye, Rwanda
Phone: +250-252530207
Days closed: January 1, April 7, May 1, July 4
Admission for the museums of the Institute of the National Museums of Rwanda (expositions and activities of the Musée Mobile are presented in those museums): Children and Students: 1,000FRW (1,80$), Foreign Residents: 2,000FRW (3,60$), Non-Residents: 3,000FRW (5,40$)
Citizens from East African Community and Economic Community of Great Lakes Region: Children and Students: 200FRW (0,40$), Adults: 500FRW (0,9$)
A traditional dance performance can be booked in advance.

(Originally published on Nov. 2, 2009)

Click on the photos below to enlarge the images.

Young people take part in a Musée Mobile program by playing drums.

Program participants try the high jump, a traditional sport in Rwanda.

Young people listen to Rwandan folktales.

The elderly talk to program participants.

Participants engage in discussion.