Milele Museum is Africa’s first virtual museum that is dedicated to the restitution and repatriation of stolen artefacts and cultural heritage. Their work is centred around the question: Will the future generation show interest in their true heritage with the current way of working at schools and cultural institutions?
Recognizing that stolen artefacts often have a diminished sense of meaning due to the fact that the stories that are held within them are both decentered and situated in the West outside of their original context, Milele Virtual Museum seeks to bridge these disjointed and separate gaps in history by creating ideas to make cultural heritage more accessible and entertaining for the next generations of Africans. With future generations spending a large percentage of time on their phones, Milele’s work creates digital space for people to reconnect with their roots with the engagement of cultural artefacts and histories.
In a vibrant conversation held with Melissa Kurkut and Bruce Niyonkuru over an Instagram live session, we covered how Milele came into being, the values that underground their work, their dreams and goals for this expansive space, and the ways in which the work they are doing has brought them into a greater awareness of themselves as individuals and as a community of practitioners in the digital restitution sphere based on the African continent.
Here are some key takeaway quotes from the conversation, juxtaposed by images of Milele’s virtual space.
“Even though we all come from different African cultures we still have the same issues of not having our belongings that belong to us back home…and with Milele being an online metaverse I learned the many options it can offer for visual storytelling purposes and really re-writing these stories and making them our own.”
On being driven by community and the energy of collaboration Bruce stated that working on Milele,
“Helped me to conquer my ego, [helped] allow the exchange of collaboration with other people, not being afraid to have similar ideas yet being unique in my own approach or in my own point of view.”
On learning, experimenting and working with technology:
“I can experiment…and somehow it can come to life if I can commit to that…there is nothing wrong that with experiments… Take advantage of technology and use it for our benefit, especially in our community, in Africa.”
Catch the full conversation here: