Community-Engagement Summer Fellowship

Building a Digital Platform for Community Museums

Author Full Name
Julie Gendy


Grant Parker


The Legacies of Enslavement project in collaboration with the Elim and Pniël museums of South Africa, our community partners, aims to help small museums that showcase the heritage of South African mission stations display their legacies of enslavement to wider audiences and through more accessible means. The museums we collaborated with had minimal online presence or digital media to bring attention to the rich history of these South African towns. We analyzed sources for a comprehensive introduction to South African history focusing on its colonial legacies and the conquest of the land by European powers that created a capitalist nation entrenched with settler interests that still pervade the country today. We also analyzed works on museums as agents for social change in order to begin building a framework for how our online tools can empower the local communities we’re working with and give a voice to the residents, and especially the curators. Using this information and the help of the museum curators we created StoryMaps as online tools that include a history of the towns as mission stations, insight into the community now, a gallery showcasing the museums’ contents, and samples from interviews we conducted with the curators. This project sought to enrich a preceding larger effort, the Museum of South African Museums, which is a tool that includes access points and information on museums all across South Africa. We hope this platform will serve as a template for other community museums in the future to facilitate the creation of more accessible platforms for other museums that have little or no government funding.

Read the final paper here.