Kitgum, Uganda

Open Museum

When we talk about peace we understand it as a state achieved through reconciliation. The steps of reconciliation require justice by way of accountability for the atrocities of the conflict, but also require a larger healing process and a recovery of the local traditions threatened to be erased by acts of war. Therefore, the Kitgum Museum for Peace and War Archive is conceived as both a memorial to the victims of the civil conflicts in Uganda and as a museum space for cultural heritage. A new exhibition space in the form of a circular path serves as the primary organization element of the museum, connecting outdoor spaces and engaging the existing surrounding buildings.

The path architecturally is conceived as an open space. It serves as a curatorial device that allows for individual freedom- freedom of movement, interaction and ultimately the framing and interpretation of events. Visitors will create different narratives and interpretations as they are given the freedom to encounter the material as they wish. Within the larger built conditions of the site, the exhibition as path unites disparate buildings and programs, allowing for new interactions and possibilities such as a market space, open air stage, a memorial garden and other programs. The museum then can be entered at several points- its perimeter is open- allowing for different stories and experiences to be encountered in multiple ways, while preserving the ability to move openly across the site. An exposed concrete foundation and a perimeter wall describe this space and mark out the path itself. This wall which surrounds an inner courtyard serves the museum’s display and the reading of the site at large. The path expands at areas to allow larger covered exhibition and gathering spaces. Through its human scale and play of light, the path and the inner courtyard create a place for reflection and contemplation though an open and permeable framework.

Connected directly to the path is an existing two story building to be used as an archive. The building was re-appropriated as a space that records, documents and publishes personal stories and testimonies of the conflict. The ground level houses a general public library and the second level includes offices, private meeting rooms and a large conference hall. The other surrounding buildings participate in the museum activities by providing classroom spaces and smaller closed exhibition rooms.

with David Salazar

Project Team: Landry Smith (Project Architect), Jeremiah Joseph, Ian Kaplan
Andrew Amarra, Edgar Muhairwe (Architects on site)

Client: The Beyond Juba Project, Refugee Law Project. The Human Rights and Peace Centre and The Faculty of Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. Chris Donlan (Director); Moses Chrispus OKELLO (Project Coordinator, Senior Research Advisor); Andrew Simbo (Program Manager)

Donor: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Northern Uganda Transitional Initiative (NUTI); Amanda Willlet (Chief of Party).

Implementation Team: Casals & Associates, Inc.; Richard Barkle Aaron Sheldon, Catherine Lumeh, Caroline Exile Apio, Caroline Joan Oyella (Project Leaders); Jolly Joe Komakech, Akena Walter, Andrew Kinyera, Boniface Ogwal, Walter Akena, Oyat Frederick, Fredrick Komakech, Patrick Loum (Project Team)

Contractor: WILBO Peyot Family Enterprises; IT: RAPS