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A Dance of History and Modernity in Sudan

Janine Stephen | Design Indaba   in 
October 24, 2014

“The museum project closest to my heart is invariably the one I am working on at the moment,” says ARCHiNOS Architecture director Agnieszka Dobrowolska.

Right now, that means a museum near the confluence of the Blue and White Niles, in the 5-million strong city of Khartoum, Sudan. The Sudan National Museum is crammed with treasures: “moving documents of the very dawn of human civilisation” and “astonishing pieces of the highest artistic value”. Many of the antiquities – including entire temples that now stand in the grounds – were rescued from sites that were flooded when the Aswan Dam was constructed in the 1960s. The museum opened in 1971.

Museum design – and the exhibitions within the physical buildings – are an important part of the firm’s work. Inevitably, museums reflect present-day interpretations of the past – and historical interpretation can be politicised (South Africa’s museums, which for years ignored or patronised most indigenous cultures, are a fine example). But museums are also about story-telling.

Finding the best ways of telling the stories of the past can be deeply satisfying.


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