The National Museum of Tanzania (NMT) is currently renovating and restoring the historical town of Mikindani in Mtwara; specifically, the old harbour, which was a slave port; old prison, mosques and the old fort, as part of a national project to upgrade its facilities to international standards and attract more visitors to enhance value and pride in culture and heritage.
Neema Mbise, NMT’s head of the Planning Unit, said, “All the renovations are being done in consultation with experts, including archaeologists. To ensure the authenticity of the materials, arrangements, finds are respected to safeguard the historical integrity of these sites.”
Also being restored is the Tenda Guru site in Lindi region. This is where two full dinosaur skeletons were excavated and taken to Germany in the early 1900s. The skeletons are on display in a Berlin museum, with one holding a Guinness record since 2007 as the world’s tallest mounted dinosaur skeleton (Brachiosaurus brancai).
NMT now seeks to have the site marked with photographs and infographics for clear branding to allow East Africans and other visitors to learn about their heritage without having to travel to Berlin.
This year will also see restoration in other sites, including the Kimbiji site in Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam, the Old Tower in Lindi’s Old Town and Mafia Kilwa Island. These on-site works include building administration offices, signage social amenities like toilets and cafés.
All these works have been made possible by government funding equivalent to Tsh2.45 billion made available since April this year.
The money is from the Covid-19 development relief funds that the government got from international financial institutions like the IMF and the African Development Bank.
The renovations and restorations are divided between sites and historical monuments and museums.
“We as also in the process of renovating our collection stores. Among the exhibitions being revamped are the ones at the Museum of House of Culture, namely the customs and the natural habitat exhibitions both at the King George Hall. In this museum we’re also working on renovating the stores and installing an international standard lab for preservation,” said Ms Mbise, adding that renovation and restoration works is also happening at the Arusha Declaration monument, the Natural History, the Maji Maji and the Nyerere museums.
They entail expansion of exhibitions, boosting collections, enhancing displays, installing laboratories, revamping libraries and adding social amenities and boosting security.
NMT operates and manages seven museums; the Village Museum (Dar es Salaam), Museum and House of Culture, Natural History Museum (Arusha), Arusha Declaration Museum, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere Museum (Butiama), Maji Maji War Memorial Museum (Songea) and the Dr Mfaume Rashid Kawawa Museum (Songea).