Nyanga exhibition makes progress but more to do

The Australian Embassy has agreed to provide funds from their Development Aid Programme (DAP) for the extension of a National Trust of Zimbabwe property – the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition.

The Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition is in urgent need of space for new displays.
The Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition is in urgent need of space for new displays.

The donation will help fund improvements at the museum, which provides a professional, educational and balanced view of the history, natural heritage and culture of communities in the Nyanga district.

Delighted by the news, supporters said, however, that financial constraints and low entrance fees meant the museum was constantly battling to stay afloat.

Based in the Rhodes Nyanga National Park close to Rhodes Nyanga Hotel, the museum is housed in Rhodes’ Stables. Rhodes and his subsequent estate managers experimented extensively with crops and livestock and laid the foundations of the agricultural industry in the area.

On his death in 1902, the estate was bequeathed in trust to the people of Zimbabwe. In 1933, when a change in policy dictated that the area be developed primarily as a tourist area, the trustees handed the administration of Rhodes Estate to the National Parks.

In 1974, the National Trust acquired from government the right to occupy the stables and adjoining buildings for the public display of manuscripts, photographs and other exhibits of interest relating to the Nyanga area. Members of the Trust began collecting articles of historic interest, including some of Rhodes’ furniture, and artefacts, photographs and articles depicting the various Nyanga era.

In 2011, the NTZ applied for funding from the Beit Trust to refurbish the stables and the Nyanga Branch of the NTZ was established, with the objective of upgrading and arranging new displays.

A second grant, through Dr Ines Grainger – on behalf of The Don Grainger Memorial Fund – has been used to renovate the saddle room.

Some of the funds are to be used to enlarge the display area in the museum and provide an activity area for children.

One of the aims of the museum committee is to provide an educational centre in Nyanga, and they’ve been encouraged by the increasing number of school groups visiting the museum.

The exhibitions include displays on early Manyika African culture and traditional leadership, and early European explorers and the first years of colonial rule.

Chief Tangwena and the struggle for Zimbabwe is well documented too. The development of agriculture, education, religion and tourism is traced.

There is also archaeological material from the Nyanga district and displays of traditional crafts. Some of the exhibits are temporary, ensuring that the exhibition remains lively and up-to-date.

Now, with urgent need for space for new displays, the committee wants to transform the barn loft, and the Australian funds will make this possible.

It’s hoped the extensions will be completed later this year.

Post published in: Arts

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