South African Museums Association Bulletin: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The South African Museums Association Bulletin (SAMAB) provides a forum for the publication of peer reviewed articles that promote the discussion, debate and the dissemination and exchange of information on aspects of museology, with particular but not exclusive reference to South Africa. SAMAB also enables the communication of current issues, practices and policies regarding collections management, curatorial discourse, museum administration, research, exhibitions, visitor studies, community engagement, education, conservation and other topics relevant to the museum and wider heritage sector.

The theme for SAMAB 2019 is (Re)define our museums. This is to invite South African museums and their professionals to reflect on what it means to redefine the South African museum and its sector. In an era of post democracy, museums claim to have transformed, adjusted and re-invented, however principles, practices and policies need to address the dire crisis museums are in, when by definition we no longer seem to reflect the challenges, manifold visions, and responsibilities we face. This theme is an active response to the International Council of Museums (ICOM) call to revise the conversation about the existence of museums and redefining museums.

ICOM is calling upon museum professionals worldwide to take part in creating a new museum definition and an open call for proposal has been made. The definition has only seen minor adjustments over recent decades, but does not reflect and express adequately the complexities of the 21st century and the current responsibilities and commitment of museums nor their challenges.

South African Museums have the ability to influence society and foster change, they are instruments of identity and some would argue that museums are rapidly losing their power and place in society. The fourth draft of the revised edition of the White paper of Arts and Culture (2017) expressed that the role of museums within South Africa have the potential to radically shift from an institutional landscape of current lack and isolation to a landscape of creative and cultural relevance and social change. The fragmented dispensation of museums, poor policy and the lack of an integrated national museum commission and what constitutes and defines a museum in a highly charged, political and corrupt landscape is one of the many challenges. This re-definition comes at a crucial stage in South Africa’s economic, political and social climate entering a new era.
We welcome submissions, papers and academically sound opinion pieces about the topic of re-defining South African museums and can include but are not limited to address some crucial questions:

  • Is there still place for museums in this current contested political and social space?
  • Should museums fall and get a hashtag?
  • Are our museums at a crossroads or crisis point?
  • How to survive in this funding and resources crisis?
  • Are South African Museums in jeopardy?
  • Do we need our National and Provincial Museums?
  • Is legislation a prism or prison for our museums?
  • How do we decolonize the museum?
  • Should we dispossess museum collections?

This issue will be published in December 2019
Submission Deadline: 1 June 2019

For more info, please contact Sian Tiley <>

Call for nominations for the SAMAB Editorial Board.

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