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The Durham’s Nelson Mandela Exhibit
May 16, 2022
“Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition” is the newest visitor to Omaha’s Durham Museum. The exhibition tells the story of freedom fighter and world leader Nelson Mandela and follows him from his early childhood to his last moments. Five years since his passing, Mandela’s values are still relevant and necessary in society.
This world-touring exhibit is in Omaha through July 3rd. It is brought to Omaha by Round Room Live and the Royal House of Mandela (RHoM). The exhibition presents historical artifacts and personal belongings on loan from the Mandela family as well as articles from museum archives worldwide. Over one-hundred and fifty artifacts are displayed, most of which have never left South Africa until now.
The exhibit takes visitors from the village where Mandela grew up, through his struggle against oppression, through his twenty-seven-year incarceration and his life-long fight against apartheid. Entering the exhibit, visitors are immediately immersed in Mandela’s story by walking through a hut replica of his childhood home. The exhibition is split into seven galleries all filled with artifacts including his Nobel Peace Prize, tribal garments and handwritten letters from jail.
The exhibition also goes deep into South Africa’s history to fully exemplify the difficult times Mandela experienced. Visitors are exposed to the Apartheid regime in full detail with examples of protests. Pointedly, the exhibit brings visitors face to face with the tragic Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, fully highlighting the importance of Mandela’s resistance and optimism.
The galleries present information through writing, films, speeches, photos and physical artifacts, creating an interactive and immersive experience. It is self-paced and takes about forty-five minutes to an hour to complete. In Mandela’s honor, the exhibition’s producers, Round Room Live and RHoM, donate a portion of the proceeds to Mvezo Development Trust to help fund economic development programs in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
One of the most eye-opening aspects of the exhibition was experiencing President Mandela’s unwavering belief and commitment to equality, even in the harshest of conditions. The galleries portray Mandela’s unending hope and inspire us to share his belief in a better world.
The exhibit is both thought provoking and inspiring. It educates visitors on important history while continuing Mandela’s legacy.
“I learned this when I was younger. Seeing it again and hearing more facts is really inspiring,” exhibit visitor and 2009 Central graduate Shan’e Perkins said. “Having young family members with me seeing this is kind of bitter-sweet.” Her friend who was also visiting the exhibition added, “We are proud to be Black, and we love our culture.”