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Morija Museum & Archives 

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Morija Museum & Archives is the oldest surviving museum in the Kingdom of Lesotho. As an institution with both extensive archival and museum collections and its own ongoing research projects and publishing program, it attracts scholars from far and wide.

For those who love ancient and modern history, contemporary issues and trends, dinosaurs, or living culture, Morija Museum is an Oasis of learning. Located in Morija, a historic town in Lesotho, the Museum works closely with the community to preserve the area's heritage. Known as the Wellspring of Learning, Morija is also regarded as Lesotho’s own town of the arts. Home to the nationally- acclaimed Morija Arts & Cultural Festival (1999-2013), this historic town is a melting pot of cultural, creative, and artistic expression. As home to a number of ongoing cultural projects, as well as a few notable artists, historians, and researchers, Morija continues to attract broad interest. At the centre of this town are the Morija Museum & Archives and its sister institutions, Morija Arts Centre and The Hub @ Morija which form the core of the Cultural Precinct. Morija Arts Centre (MAC) is an arts collective that hosts arts and crafts exhibitions, workshops, and music events. The MAC also takes care of the Maeder House Gallery housed in the oldest standing building in the country. The Hub is a digital creativity lab whose programs are designed to up-skill youth in IT, animation, and film-making. 

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Morija Museum & Archives (MMA) has been Lesotho’s pioneer in heritage management and education and remains its premier cultural institution. The Museum is built upon the work of over a century of private collections of cultural and historical artefacts and an extensive archive of rare documents and books which recorded the growth and development of the Basotho people. These collections were housed separately until Queen ‘Mamohato persuaded The Ford Foundation to assist in constructing permanent facilities to house both the museum and archival collections so that this centre of learning could play a larger role in the life of the nation. Additional assistance from Goldfields (South Africa) and the Netherlands-Lesotho Foundation ensured that Phase I (the Archival Building) was constructed in 1988. Since 1989, MMA has played a growing role locally and nationally through its various programs and initiatives. 

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Highlights of the Last Years 

  • Great efforts have been made to properly preserve, re-organize, document, and catalogue the museum and archival collections at MMA, augment them, begin serious efforts at digitisation, utilise these collections for various educational and research purposes, and ensure these will be conserved as an on-going legacy to future generations. 

  • The Museum grounds have been beautifully developed and landscaped, historic outbuildings have been renovated, and a Tea Room (Café Mojo), picnic facilities, and natural amphitheatre have been opened or greatly enhanced. The adjacent Heritage Park has been added to augment space for small and large events.

  • MMA together with its Friends, Supporters, and Partners, has held book launches, art exhibitions, heritage excursions, memorial lectures, festivals, school cultural competitions, and school outreach programs, while its sister institutions (Morija Arts Centre and The Hub) have created their own calendar of activities and events.

  • The Morija Arts Centre was established in 2011 at Maeder House (the oldest building in Lesotho which is located in Morija) for the production and sale of locally produced crafts, exhibitions by Lesotho artists, and the training of young people. It has recently been given access to a much larger adjacent facility (the old MEL Garage) which will greatly enhance its efforts in Arts Education; Skills Training; Productive Spaces and Business Incubation; as well as Events and Exhibitions. 

  • The Hub, a digital creativity lab, has provided a range of programs and socially-relevant activities since 2015 around computer literacy, new media (photography, film, media literacy), skills & soup for enhancing the learning experience of young students, writers’ club, photographic exhibitions and advocacy work, and much more.

  • MMA, together with the Royal Archives & Museum (Matsieng), and community leaders have formed the Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage & Tourism Initiative (SSM) that seeks to leverage the rich history, traditions, and living culture of Morija and the three adjacent Royal Villages of Matsieng, Makeneng, and Phahameng in order to serve as a catalyst for additional investments in public infrastructure and sustainable business enterprises so as to improve the livelihoods, educational opportunities and community cohesion of this core area and its wider surroundings. 

  • Walking and biking trails in the hills in the greater Morija area have been mapped, and new heritage excursions across the Makhoarane area are being developed in conjunction with homestay, as well as local catering, guiding and allied services. With a growing range of private stakeholders (Guest Houses, B&Bs, eating establishments, and pony-trekking to name a few), the Makhoarane area should be well-placed to become a more attractive tourism destination. This is the work of the Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage-Tourism Initiative. See the visitmorija.com website for further information.

  • Finally, in a new venture following the Covid pandemic, MMA was fortunate to be awarded a ground-breaking project under the Sound Connects Fund, administered by the Music in Africa Foundation. Called ‘Re-Appropriating Lesotho’s Cultural Heritage through New Media’, the project seeks to more fully document / re-claim the rapidly-disappearing skill base in terms of traditional instruments, train a new generation of instrumentalists who can take these older instruments into new performance contexts, and popularise these as well through a 20-minute animation based on a quasi-traditional tale (tšomo). The project is to be completed by early 2023.

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Getting to Morija Museum & Archives 

Morija Museum & Archives is situated in Morija, less than one hour drive from Maseru. Take the Main South (A2) Highway from Maseru towards Mafeteng, and pass Moshoeshoe I International Airport, after 20km, signs on your left will indicate Morija. Coming from Mafeteng, the sign will be on your right along Main South (A2), 35km north of Mafeteng. After turning off the highway at the junction into Morija, follow the tar road for 1.5 km.  

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