Fragments of a history: Museum of Samoa

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Keil, Krause
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Schnoor, Christoph
Prescott, James
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Apia (Samoa)
museum design
national museums
Apia Courthouse (1902-2020)
architecture and culture
cultural identity
Samoan architecture
heritage sites
Keil, K. (2021). Fragments of a history: Museum of Samoa. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTION How can the architectural design of a new museum for Samoa contribute to the narration of Samoa’s culture and history? ABSTRACT Samoa’s history in the last two centuries has not only been shaped by one culture but by many – not least through colonialism. This has ultimately shaped the island nation as what it is today. The preservation of cultural traditions and history is paramount in providing identity to a people, and a place. The current National Museum of Samoa is not performing as a reputable place that provides and informs people on Samoan culture and history. There is a distinct need for such a space, a place that informs and educates people on Samoan cultural heritage and history. This project, based on the design for a museum for Samoa, will allow for Samoan traditions and their political history to be preserved in a space that will influence people and future generations to learn from. The construction of the Courthouse building by the German colonial administration, in 1902/03, marked the starting point of a building that would live through periods that have shaped Samoa’s modern history. Used by the Germans, later the New Zealand administration and the Samoan Prime Minister’s Office, the building visibly showed Samoan history. This became the starting point of this project: the Courthouse as a place for a Museum for Samoa. The investigation of the building led to research in three main areas of the project: conservation, Samoan history/culture, and museology. The old Courthouse building was vacated when the new Ministry of Justice building had been completed in 2010, which housed the new courtrooms. After many years of the building being left vacant, its removal in 2020 resulted in an abrupt shift to the project. The project has taken the approach to design the museum, from research gathered through building conservation, in the form of a partial reconstruction, and a new building. The reconstruction serves as a reminder of what had been present, in the past, but also of the fact that the building is no longer present.
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