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Kyrgyzstan's Inaugural National Museum Festival organised by UCA and Ministry of Culture

The University of Central Asia (UCA), in partnership with Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Culture and the University of Durham, organised Kyrgyzstan’s inaugural National Museum Festival, titled “Local Stories in Museum Spaces” which recognised the importance of engaging local communities in the creation of museum content. The event organised at the famed Sulaiman-Too Museum in Osh saw the participation of over 50 museum professionals from 20 museums.

This inaugural Museum Festival also saw ten museums being jointly awarded by the Ministry of Culture and UCA. The prize money of 400,000 KGS ($4500) was given in five categories of distinction: ‘Representation of Women’s Stories in Museum Spaces’, ‘Decolonial Narratives in Museum Spaces’, ‘Digital Nomadic Culture’, ‘Local Museum Initiative’, and “Involvement of Local Communities in the Creation of Museum Content”. The awards were decided by an eminent jury consisting of the Kyrgyz Minister of Culture, Director of the Aigul-Too Batken Cultural and Historical Museum Complex, Professor at Durham University and the UCA’s Department of Cultural Heritage and Humanities (CHHU) Director. One of the winners, Mahabat Sarybaeva from the Kadamzhai District Museum, Batken Oblast said: “I did not expect that our museum project about the work of women weavers would win a prize. This is very inspiring and gives strength to work with even greater enthusiasm. I really hope that we will all meet at the Second National Museum Festival.”

Elmira Kochumkulova (left), UCA, receiving Certificate of Appreciation from Kyrgyzstan’s Minister of Culture, Altynbek Maksutov

The festival provided a platform for museum specialists to communicate with each other. Talant Sattarkulov, a specialist in the local history museum of the school named after B. Sattarkulov in the village of Kök-Tash of Batken Oblast, said, “I work in a small museum in a remote border village, so I often fall out of the latest museum news. At this festival, I connected with many colleagues and built new bridges. I gained experience for preparing for such large-scale performances. This will enable us, museum specialists, to gain experience of various museums throughout the country.”

Award winners from Alykul Osmonov Museum in Chui Oblast

UCA’s CHHU was also awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from His Excellency Altynbek Maksutov, Kyrgyzstan’s Minister of Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy for its efforts in promoting cultural heritage and education in the Kyrgyz Republic. CHHU’s Director Elmira Kochumkulova noted - “UCA is pleased to support the development of museums in Central Asia. The museum is an institution that preserves collective memory. We must ensure that museums use new methods and tools used by the younger generation. Modern museums are no longer silent keepers of history. The modern world requires museums to be more creative and media friendly. I am glad that this festival was able to showcase and felicitate innovative museum initiatives that speak to their viewers in a modern language.”