Sithembele Harmans is the Community Outreach Specialist at Iziko Museums of South Africa. He develops and conducts programmes aimed at increasing access for a broader South African audience, including the poor and those living in remote rural areas, communities who would otherwise not be able to reach our museums.
His key values are a love and respect for science and nature, and encouraging young people to learn more about our planet through museum education. ‘By doing so they will be able to come up with solutions to some of the environmental and social challenges we currently face,’ he says.
Mr Harmans has a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum & Heritage Studies from the University of Cape Town, and a BA (Honours) from the University of the Western Cape.
His favourite exhibition is The Power of Rock Art at the South African Museum, as he says it exemplifies a mode of representation that reclaims the dignity that colonialism denied to previously marginalized communities. ‘The exhibition was opened in 2003, and gives recognition to our remarkable heritage of rock art,’ he says. ‘It presents the collections that had been in the museum for a century in a way that inspires historical imagination and respect for the artists and their beliefs. The exhibition is also an attempt at decolonizing controversial and culturally damaging exhibit spaces in the post-apartheid period.’
In 2007, Mr Harmans participated in the Swedish-African Museum Programme, travelling to a small town called Kristianstad situated in the north-eastern part of Skåne in southern Sweden. ‘While there,’ he says, ‘I visited the Film Museum, a unique museum housed in the oldest film studio (from 1909) still standing in Sweden. Outside the doors of this museum, you are greeted by an early movie camera, and on video inside you can view the flickering works of Sweden’s first film directors. It came as a surprise to many visitors that Kristianstad, not Stockholm, was the cradle of the Swedish film industry.’
Another travel destination Mr Harmans would like to visit is the Great Barrier Reef: ‘Not only one of the most colourful places on Earth, but also the planet’s largest coral reef system, home to 400 kinds of coral, more than 900 islands, more than 2 000 types of plants, and even some endangered species of marine life.’