The Museum in Ghana: their Role and Importance in Ghana’s Social and Economic Development

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July 2012
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The social and economic development that museums bring to a community is growing gradually the world over. The work of museums has transformed socioeconomically blighted communities into economically booming societies such as Kenya, Addis Ababa and Israel. Ghana is endowed with a lot of historical land marks and landscape that are economically viable. The museums in Ghana seem to have resources that can be employed to improve the social and economic standard of Ghanaians. However, they seem to have very little impact socially and economically in Ghana’s development. This has prompted the quest to find out whether the museums in Ghana play a role in Ghana’s social and economic development. The research questions needed to solve the problem were to find out what are the types of museums in Ghana?, to what extent are the museums adequately resourced to better perform their social and economic functions, are the social and economic performances of the museums effective? and how can the museums play their role in Ghana’s social and economic development? To obtain answers to these research questions, questionnaires, in-depth interviews, covert, observatory, participatory and random sampling of interviewees were used. The population interviewed was taken from cultural and heritage institutions and from the streets near the museum. The main findings are that, the museums have modestly been performing important social and economic functions for the social and economic development of Ghana. Despite the fairly adequate resources in the museums, they have also demonstrated that it is capable of transforming dormant communities with heritage 4 resources into thriving economies. It has also been found out that the museums in Ghana are unpopular with the majority of Ghanaians because they are unaware that the museums feature as part of Ghana’s development strategies. However, it is believed that if the museums are fully supported by Ghanaians the museums will play a more visible and a quantifiable multipurpose role in interdisciplinary ways to meet Ghana’s need for industrial development in the near feature. The work of the museum is dynamic; history is made every day and also means different things to different classes of people and generations. The museums will thus create diversity of investment opportunities both socially and economically, and will therefore stand as an indispensable institution bridging the knowledge and generation gaps with stores of tangible and intangible evidence of time and space of human and natural occurrences, relevant for teaching, learning and recreation, and for dialogue under a common canopy of the museum. It is therefore recommended that the museums should intensify publicity and engage earnestly in sustainability agendas in order to conserve cultural heritage products for the future generations. The museums too should intensify its role in engaging development planners and the Ghana Education Service in discussions to portray the museum as a portal for academia and industry in favour of Ghana’s quest for social and economic independence.
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in African Art and Culture.