The community Museums programme in Zimbabwe started in 2000 as a compliment to other government programmes. Community museums seek to empower smaller communities through promotion of their cultures as well as their languages especially in lower schools. NMMZ’ s community museums programme is thus part of the broader “Cultural Equity” programme.
The programme emerged as an alternative “museums conception” which was driven by the community relevance in museum issues. Thus workshops held at the community museums aim to empower local artists, provoke inert talents, carry out community exhibitions, develop dying skills, promote community arts, engage in exchange programs etc. This concept has dynamised the otherwise static view of museums as tourist places. In addition the new concept has removed the curator as the “god-father” of the museum who has been replaced by the community with him working to get the best out of the community talent.
This new–concept of ‘Museums with community relevance’ has not only helped promoting the diversity of the Zimbabwe culture-scape, but has also assisted the communities in enhancing their livelihoods through workshops, sale of exhibition products and direct crafts. A classical example, and a first of its kind is the BaTonga Community Museum located in North Western Zimbabwe. In 2006 the second and third projects of the programme will be launched. This time it will be the Nambya, still located in Northwestern Zimbabwe, and the Budja community in north-eastern Zimbabwe.