Exploring the Contribution of Visual Arts in the Conservation of Culture and Indigenous Knowledge: The Case of Makerere University Art Gallery.
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Knowledge is a basic human right, and the conservation of indigenous culture and knowledge is fundamental to respecting and upholding this human right for all cultures by conserving and building the capacity of our culture, norms, artifacts and indigenous knowledge. This can be linked to the visual art landscape of our nation in its multiple forms. According to the Uganda's national cultural policy, under the ministry of gender labor and social development, the country deems it appropriate to promote and protect its national heritage. It acknowledges the diversity of cultural expressions within its territory, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, principles of international laws as well as the country’s Constitution, and restoration of African dignity within the broader agenda of the African Renaissance. Leading to the independence of Uganda in 1962 the elections of 1st March 1961 saw Milton Obote prime minister and in the succeeding years 1966 Obote suspended the constitution and took over all power removing the position of vice president and in September 1967 a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic, gave the president greater power and abolished all traditional kingdoms leading to loss of a lot of the indigenous knowledge. With the brief political background, we can relate the influence of our politics to the art landscape of our country. In 1969, Makerere Art Gallery was founded as an exhibition space for the growing collection of artworks by faculty and students. This collection is currently the only public collection of modern and contemporary art in Uganda and of great significance far beyond Uganda, representing a big part of modern art production in East Africa. In 2011, the gallery was transformed into the independent research-focused Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration (IHCR)Through research instruments like observation, interviews, and questioners, this research presents an analysis of individual views about the topic from students of art, professional artists, and educators as well as the public to express the all-round national significance of our visual arts in relation to culture as one of the major elements of our cultural diversity.From the findings, evidence shows that visual arts and culture are interconnected and have benefited our country, however capacity building, and improving on the accessibility of visual art, cultural heritage as an integrated system for sustainable national development still needs more input to be realized.