Inclusive Museums for development: A case of the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences

Kelvin Mukabeta, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Most popular museums in Zimbabwe were constructed in the pre-independence period, a time of war which gave less attention to the rights of disabled people. That lack of attention to those different groups resulted in public buildings and facilities that favour other classes of the public over others. There are gaps that require urgent bridging with particular reference to museums accommodating the disabled, alternatively known as physically challenged people, differently abled or handicapped. Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences (ZMHS) has a visitor ship comprising of mostly schools and general public from Harare and a smaller percentage from the rest of the country and foreigners. It is not surprising to notice that among the many schools and even individuals who visit the place, almost none of disabled persons or groups attempt to visit the museum. Except for the wheelchair ramp at the entrance there are no other facilities that can provide possibilities for disabled people to go about the museum freely by themselves. This is in spite of the fact that disabled people have rights to access public institutions which renders their silent discrimination a human right and legal issues as well. Challenges may be in form of walking difficulties, blindness and partial sight, mental disabilities, deaf and dumb or even just old age. This paper seeks to highlight areas that may be feasible to modify considering the current structure and architecture to make ZMHS more inclusive both to audience and in terms of employment.