Co-design in the development of effective museums in Kenya

Author: Malaki, , Samson

Supervisors: LILAC OSANJO and Francisca Odundo

In today’s changing world, attention for people’s time is increasingly growing and museums across the world are crafting means of reaching a wide range of new audiences and repeat visitors to remain relevant in the market. Despite the shifting trends in visitor experiences, museum visitors have not been adequately considered in the design and development of effective regional museums in Kenya. The museum audience has become more of passive consumers instead of engaging actively as cultural participants. The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of co-design in the development of effective regional museums in Kenya. Specific objectives were to: analyse the extend by which museum users have been used in the development of regional museums in Kenya; examine the process of developing museums in Kenya; establish opportunities for incorporating museum users in the development process of museum exhibitions; and propose a Co-design framework that can be used to develop effective museums in Kenya. The findings are expected to inform policy makers, stakeholders, academicians and communities on the roles of co-design in developing effective and sustainable regional museums with special focus on museum users. The research used exploratory research and applied case research design strategy. Case studies including Kisumu, Nairobi and Fort Jesus museums were selected using purposive sampling. A sample size of 180 was considered drawing responses from education officers, school groups, teachers, researchers, exhibition designers, curators, museum education officers, community leaders among other stakeholders. Data was collected using questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions, observations checklists and document analysis. Analysis was based on descriptive statistics. The research established that co-participation within the social context of museum communities is weak and disjointed; bottom-up approach; top-bottom approach-exhibitions are key opportunities for participatory educational aims. Moreover, the research revealed that co-design strategies can be enhanced through dialogue, awareness, empowering communities to take ownership of museum and develop programs and exhibitions. The research concluded that change toward inclusion in the regional museums is an on-going process that is embedded within the work of a broad range of organizational areas. Museum users should be extensively be incorporated in the development process of museum exhibitions. The research recommended, among other areas, the need for integrating co-design planning, capacity building, community ownership and advocacy to stimulate research through more funding.