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South Africa has a rich and colourful history. Many countries do; with layers of social and cultural fabrics that shaped their society. While there is a lot of cultural heritage and diversity to celebrate, the reality is that our country and society have also faced oppression, segregation, discrimination and many other forms of social inequality. These stories are embedded in our history and in preserving these narratives, they have gone on to shape our laws, policies and how we interact with each other daily. By understanding our past, we can learn how to shape the future.

However, we need to understand that social justice is a challenging landscape to navigate. Social justice requires inclusivity, challenging accepted principles, bold advocacy, deep learning and collaboration. These are a lot of roles to play; so how do museums act as these central points that not only share our stories in history but also act as platforms that spark critical conversation around social justice and what it means for different people? This is a big question, and to be honest, that will have an answer that will always change. What is important is that museums act as a safe space to host critical debates that promote understanding between segments of society that have been shaped by differences in the past.

Museums are increasingly becoming powerful agents of change in modern-day social justice campaigns. From thought-provoking exhibits to community engagement initiatives, museums play a crucial role in influencing public perceptions and fostering safe spaces for these critical conversations.

They have the power to challenge dominant historical narratives and perspectives. Interactive and engaging museum exhibits provide users with alternative viewpoints and reexamining historical events and therefore contribute to critical discussions around systemic injustices. This promotes critical thinking and in many cases an eagerness to participate in conversations.

Challenging historical narratives and perspectives will act as a trigger point for wanting to see change and a fairer society. Many users who actively engage in exhibits that trigger conversations, will be inclined to become advocates for change, in their way. Museums can take a neutral stance out of the fear of being too political or controversial. However many museums nowadays choose to step into the role of being a social justice catalyst, bridging the social and political divides between people.

Along with addressing historical social injustice, museums can respond to modern-day social justice issues by addressing current events and incorporating them into their exhibitions. This responsiveness helps museums remain relevant and connected to the evolving needs and challenges of society.

As long as a museum retains its willingness to invite multiple perspectives and for its narratives to be challenged, it can continue to act as a platform that will shape society through civil participation.