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Castle of Good Hope promoted in France

Jul 10 2016 16:48
Carin Smith

From left: Calvyn Gilfellan (CCB CEO), Krystel Gualde (Nantes Castle) and Bertrand Guillet (Nantes Castle). (Supplied)

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Cape Town - The Castle of Good Hope's control board CEO Calvyn Gilfellan is currently in France visiting the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany and the Museum of History in Nantes.  

The Nantes Castle is a 550 year old fortification designed and built more or less around similar purposes as Cape Town’s 350 year old Castle of Good Hope.

The objectives of the visit are to gain as much first-hand knowledge, expertise and experience from his French counterparts and their heritage offering and in return share experiences and expertise managing South Africa’s oldest, surviving colonial building.

“As the Castle of Good Hope is commemorating its 350 year of existence, it is all important to remember that our country (SA) and its heritage is connected to Africa, Europe and the rest of the world," explained Gilfellan.

"So, when the invitation and sponsorship from the French Embassy came via its Institut Francais Afrique du Sud (Ifas), it was taken up with gratitude and seen as an opportunity to promote our Castle internationally. Through Ifas director Marion Claudel, I was put in touch with very knowledgeable counterparts in the areas of conservation, heritage management, tourism, exhibitions and collections management.”

Some of the highlights of Gilfellan's three-day visit included a productive engagement with Jenna Derda, the artistic production manager of the city’s destination marketing organisation (Le Voyage à Nantes).

"They have achieved what very few other international tourism organisations could even hope to do: integrating government, the private sector, heritage organizations, cultural institutions, tourism, ecological bodies, retail and others into one, powerful, mean marketing machine enabling the city to attract millions of visitors," said Gilfellan.  

"One of the city of Nantes’ outstanding innovations is the thin, uninterrupted neon-green line painted on their pavements connecting all the places of interest in the city."

Gilfellan had a day-long visit to the Nantes Castle as guest of the director Bertrand Guillet and the manager for scientific development, Krystel Gualde.

"The Castle of Nantes team have managed to develop and build sensitive but robust exhibitions inter alia around Nantes’ dark, difficult slave history," explained Gilfellan.

"This has certainly increased the interest in their museum as witnessed by the double digit increase in visitors over the past 5 years. This is definitely something the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town and the rest of South Africa can learn from."

It was also fascinating to Gilfellan to see the massive advances in the fields of heritage conservation, the digitisation of heritage, the creative combination of multi-media and traditional exhibition techniques and the innovative visitor management strategies in such an old building.

“All in all this was an extremely productive three-day visit to Nantes with the possibility of a twinning arrangement between our two institutions covering areas of slavery, scholar programmes and heritage research," said Gilfellan.

"The goodwill built over these couple of days can only benefit the Castle of Good Hope, especially now that so many spaces will be opened up after our major renovation project.”

france  |  south africa  |  tourism  |  travel and leissure


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