What does culture mean to you?

By Mathias Huckert ,

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SHARING THE IDEA OF CULTURE: Visitors of the Museum of Samoa can define culture by themselves.

SHARING THE IDEA OF CULTURE: Visitors of the Museum of Samoa can define culture by themselves. (Photo: Museum of Samoa)

The term “culture” is often used, but the question is: what does it really mean? The answer to that is certainly not a right-or-wrong one, because every human being might define culture in a different way.

That is why the Museum of Samoa in Malifa has started a project in which many Samoan visitors were asked about their definition of culture. The submitted replies in the ongoing “My Culture Project” could not be more different from each other.

“So far we have collected a lot of photos showing the visitors of our museum and their perspective of culture. In fact, we have collected so many pictures that we will launch an exhibition during the next month, where people will have the chance to see some of the photos,” explained Lumepa Apelu, the Museum’s Principal Officer.

The mentioned exhibition will be part of the celebration of International Museum Day, which was originally planned to be held on the 18th of May, but was then postponed to the next month by the Museum’s administration. The facility will as well give its visitors the chance to be part of the exhibition.

“People can visit our museum and if they wish, we take a photo and we hand them a piece of paper, so that they can explain what their very own culture means to them.”

The “My Culture Project” started years ago. Originated by an Australian volunteer who worked at the museum in 2008, the number of photos soon increased. 

“When we started the project back then, we soon came to the decision that we would continue it in the following years, and that’s what we did.

CELEBRATING THE VARIETY OF CULTURE: The project brings countless different ideas of culture to Light.

CELEBRATING THE VARIETY OF CULTURE: The project brings countless different ideas of culture to Light.

In our photo exhibition of the project this year, we will include about roughly sixty different photos, but that is just one small part of the huge number of participants which we had over the years. This is indeed a small museum, so we will have to use an additional room for our exhibition in June, which only fits this particular number of photos.”

ONE OF MANY: The Museum’s photo exhibition will feature around 60 photographs.
ONE OF MANY: The Museum’s photo exhibition will feature around 60 photographs.
CELEBRATING THE VARIETY OF CULTURE: The project brings countless different ideas of culture to Light.
CELEBRATING THE VARIETY OF CULTURE: The project brings countless different ideas of culture to Light.

Sixty people with sixty different definitions of culture, all sharing their own opinion. This diversity is what makes the Museum’s exhibition special, Lumepa Apelu said.

“We will have the opportunity to show many different faces of the country in the context of this and it still is an ongoing thing, because the response to that project was and still is an overwhelmingly positive one.

ONE OF MANY: The Museum’s photo exhibition will feature around 60 photographs.

ONE OF MANY: The Museum’s photo exhibition will feature around 60 photographs.

It really features all the different kinds of people which visit the museum. That is why we decided to exhibited it. We have for instance taken photos of families, tourists, students and of course children.”

Speaking of children, the Museum’s administration also regards the upcoming exhibition as a great opportunity to encourage the facility’s youngest visitors to deal with their own heritage and culture.

“We found out that a lot of children like the project, they all like to see the different ideas of culture. Especially the kids do have some wild ideas about that and it is always fun for them to find out what everybody’s idea about culture is”.

Even though the photo exhibition will surely be one of the highlights of this year’s celebration of International Museum Day, it is yet not the only one. “There will also be a talk about heritage since this year’s theme will be on Samoan Culture and Landscapes. 

“We will be inviting academics from NUS, for instance anthropologists and archaeologists who can tell a lot about the subject, because they just launched a database on Samoan heritage,” Lumepa said.  

International Museum Day will be held around the middle of June at the Museum of Samoa, with the exact date soon given by the Museum’s administration. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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