Esther Roberts, curator of the Gwynedd Museum & Art, Bangor feels inspired by the fact that Rwandan museums and art galleries are uniting the Rwandan people following the genocide of 1994. As a trained archaeologist and curator, Esther was able to contribute towards the project and share her experience in archaeology, conservation and interpretation.
“As a country still recovering from the trauma of genocide, Rwanda understands the power of history all too well. History was banned from schools until the curriculum could be re-written. But the memory of those who died during the genocide is very visible in the landscape today – genocide memorials appear in every town. They are part of Rwanda’s history and provide a way for Rwandans to remember and learn from their past,” said Esther Roberts.
“As part of this rebuilding of a society that was once torn in two, into Tutsis and Hutus - the Rwandan government also sees the development of cultural and heritage sites as central to achieving a more stable, unified society of Rwandans.
The National Museum of Rwanda is one of the largest public buildings in Rwanda and smaller regional sites are currently being developed.
Esther added: “It is heartening that despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, heritage is not seen as a luxury. Rather, archaeology, museums and cultural sites are seen as part of a strategy of economic regeneration as well as powerful way of raising knowledge, confidence and pride within society – a lesson which is being increasingly learnt in many areas of this country.”
The Rwandan project manager added: “It was great to have Esther’s expertise here and so good to learn about the people and heritage of Gwynedd. She is an excellent ambassador!”