Sudan is a vast, culturally diverse environment that has long suffered from conflict and international sanctions. The Western Sudan Community Museums Project was created to address the role of museums and heritage collections in helping rebuild peace and social cohesion.
ICCROM-Sharjah developed the project together with the General Corporation for Antiquities and Museums in Sudan (NCAM), with gracious financial support from the British Council. It also benefited from the collaboration of Mallinson Architects, a British firm with longstanding experience with projects in Sudan.
Three museums were selected from territories linked geographically to nomadic, trade and pilgrimage routes. They are tied to each other historically through their representation of migrations and revolutions, which are still present in the collective memory of people and which contributed to the formation of modern Sudan as an independent state.
The project culminated in the revitalization of the museums and cooperation between local and international experts to restore the historic museum buildings, conserve their collections through new exhibitions, improve education and document the living heritage of the area in 52 short films. These museums have become cultural and community hubs – with facilities such as libraries, children's centres and cafeterias – and popular celebration spaces.
The first phase of the project drew to a close under the shadow of COVID-19, and it was a major challenge to continue. Yet we succeeded in opening a Sudanese project office and media in-country office, which will ensure opportunities for the project’s long-term sustainability.
We are particularly proud of this integrated project for its people-centred, sustainable and holistic recovery methods. Putting theoretical training into practice, it embodies ICCROM’s signature reliability and sensitive approach. With the valuable help of our donors and cooperation of Member States, the Western Sudan Community Museums Project will make a lasting difference to the communities these museums serve.