Smithsonian Museum Project
In August 2010, BFU-USA visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC to discuss collaborative opportunities in promoting the culture and arts of Cameroon. The discussions during the visit explored a variety of opportunities for collaboration, such as book exchanges between the museum's libraries and our libraries in Bui; exploring the possibility of training our museum professionals, who will work in the cultural museums that are being planned in Bui, etc.
BFU-USA's National President, Tarbinlam Lafon, gifted the Museum's library with books on Nso culture, the Ngonnso Festival 2010 Magazine, BFU-USA 2010 National Convention promotional materials, a traditional bag and traditional hat. The books on Nso culture are available for research purposes as part of the museum's Warren M. Robbins Library collection.
What We've Been Up To
In preparation for our visit, the Smithsonian Librarian arranged a display of literature about Cameroonian culture on four different tables! The long discussion that ensued was very productive and focused on collaborative opportunities and a possible partnership on many areas of culture. Below are a few examples of the kinds of opportunities discussed:
- The possibility of creating a forum for cultural discussions and dialog between academic scholars, artists, and writers
- Exploring opportunities for training museum professionals who will work in the cultural museums that BFU-USA is planning to sponsor Bui Division.
- Explore the possibility of book exchanges between the Smithsonian and libraries in our communities in Bui Division.
As the meeting wrapped up, the National President expressed sincere thanks to the Museum management for taking their whole afternoon off to meet with BFU-USA. He underscored the importance of this meeting to BFU-USA and the Bui community in the US and in Cameroon and pledged to collaborate with the Smithsonian to preserve, protect and give our culture more visibility to the world at large. He also presented gifts to the Smithsonian Museum on behalf of BFU-USA. Gifts presented included 5 books on Nso culture, the Ngonnso Festival 2010 Magazine, BFU-USA 2010 National Convention Promotional Materials, a traditional bag and traditional hat. The books on Nso culture will be added to the Warren M. Robbins Library collection as a donation from BFU-USA and will be made available for research purposes. The Smithsonian staff expressed immense gratitude for the gifts and the extended discussion, and pledged to work collaboratively with BFU-USA.
Outcomes and Impact
The collaboration with the Smithsonian continues, though our main challenge has been allocating a resource to focus on building this relationship further and driving the actions discussed to completion.
In July 2012, the Smithsonian Museum accepted an invitation to attend the 24th Annual BFU-USA National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ms. Kamua Gathoni, outreach coordinator at the Smithsonian African Art Museum, attended the convention and presented as a guest speaker. This gesture by the museum illustrates the mutual value of maintaining and growing our relationship. BFU-USA has appointed a task force from the Washington DC Metro Chapter to manage our continued collaboration with the Smithsonian.