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Latest Grants Mark More Than 20 Years of Commitment in Africa by Getty

September 9, 2008

LOS ANGELES—Two new grants from the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles are supporting African museums, marking over 20 years of commitment by the Getty to training museum professionals in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Foundation’s new grants will support two types of heritage preservation. One, a $200,000 grant for the West African Museums Program (WAMP) in Senegal, will fund training in the preservation of historical photographs. The other $175,000 grant to the International Council of African Museums in Kenya (AFRICOM) will help the organization restructure to better serve the African museum community.  This is the Getty’s fourth grant in support of AFRICOM.

“Strengthening these key professional organizations helps to build capacity for museums across the continent,” said Deborah Marrow, Director of the Getty Foundation.

African museums house a wide variety of objects, from ritual objects such as tribal masks, musical instruments, and statues, to clothing and historical photographs, many of them increasingly fragile and in need of protection. 

“The grant received by WAMP from the Getty Foundation will make a huge impact on West African institutions in the preventive conservation of some of the most threatened photographic collections,” said Dr. Boureima Diamitani, WAMP Executive Director.

The Getty Foundation’s commitment to African museums started in 1986, when the Foundation began working with the International Centre for Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome to launch the landmark year-long Prevention in Museums in Africa program for professionals, also known as PREMA. The program’s purpose was to train conservators, curators, and museum directors to undertake preventive conservation for the objects in their care, and importantly, to share their knowledge with others.

“The philosophy was really to ‘train the trainers,’” said Joan Weinstein, associate director of the Getty Foundation.  “Course graduates were able to share their knowledge with colleagues in their home countries, allowing them to network and find solutions in an increasingly challenging museum environment.”  

The Getty Foundation also provided funding for PREMA graduates to conduct similar training programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  To date, more than 400 museum professionals from 40 nations have completed training, and the programs have led to the creation of the first permanent African organizations dedicated to preserving museum collections, the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain in Benin, and the Centre for Heritage Development in Africa in Kenya.

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Melissa Abraham  
Getty Communications

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