of the Working Group on Cross Cultural Issues of the International
Council of Museums (ICOM)
at the 89th session of the Executive Council
of ICOM on December 1997
1972, participants at the meeting of the International Council
of Museums (ICOM) in Santiago, Chile, argued that museums
should become an integral part of societies around them.
This is reflected in the 1974 revision of the ICOM definition
of a museum with a clear statement that the museum should
be an institution in the service of society and its development.
new spirit and the promotion of the ideals of cultural democracy
have led to the opening of museums to a number of community
centred initiatives and concerns. In the past two decades
issues over the repatriation of human remains and sacred
objects, have led to the drawing of new equations in the
relationships between museums and indigenous peoples in
different parts of the world. The search for relevance and
new audiences and increasing global population shifts have
also led to new challenges for museums to address issues
in multicultural contexts.
the Quebec General Conference of ICOM in October 1992 the
Advisory Committee recommended that a Working Group be established
to address cross-cultural issues impacting on museums. Accordingly,
at its December 1992 meeting, the Executive Council has
established a Working Group on Cross Cultural Issues (WGCCI).
It was mandated with the following primary terms of reference
examine and report on the ways that museums throughout
the world are addressing the wide range of issues with
cross cultural dimensions and to propose guidelines for
adoption by ICOM concerning the way that museums should
endeavour to deal with cultural diversity in general and
indigenous and multicultural issues in particular; and
make recommendations concerning the ways that cross-cultural
perspectives should be reflected in the work of ICOM and
Membership of Working Group
following membership was endorsed at the meeting of the
ICOM Executive Council in December, 1992:
Amareswar Galla (Chairperson), Prof Patrick Boylan (Vice-President
of ICOM, Executive Council member) , Mr Emmanuel Arinze
(Nigeria), Fr. Gabriel S.Casal (Philippines), Ms Alissandra
Cummins (Barbados), Sra. Lucia Astudillo de Parra (Ecuador),
Mr Saroi Eoe (Papua New Guinea), Ms Nancy Fuller (USA),
Mr Tom Hill (Canada), Prof Pascal Makambila (Congo), Ms
Nima Smith (UK), Prof Tomislav Sola (Croatia), Mr. Avshalom
was envisaged by the Executive Council that the principle
mode of operation for the Group will be through correspondence.
The WGCCI advertised its mandate in the ICOM News in 1993.
Members have taken further initiatives and participated
in a range of meetings, symposia, conferences and workshops.
Participation was mainly through the normal professional
activities of the members. There has been a sustained effort
to raise issues and solicit feedback for the mandate of
following is a small selection of the forums in which the
relevant issues were addressed:
and Indigenous Peoples, Victoria, BC, Canada, 1994
Pacific Regional Assembly of ICOM, Sydney, 1994
Cultures and Living Traditions, Honolulu, 1993
(Preventive Conservation for Museums of Africa) Programme
of ICCROM, 1993-
meeting of ICOMOS, World Heritage Committee &
ICCROM Joint Meeting on Cultural Diversity and Authenticity,
Nara, Japan, 1994
Association of Museums, Gaborone, 1995
Museums Association Meeting, Belize, 1994
(ICOM Training Committee) Meeting, Rio De Janeiro, 1993
Forum on City Museums, London, 1993 and Barcelona, 1996
Initiative for Peace, UNESCO, Paris, 1994
consultations of the World Commission for Culture and
Assembly, International Council of Museums, Stavanger,
across the world are currently going through various phases
of transformation as we move towards the turn of the century.
This process which is an integral part of the cultural systems
of different countries and regions puts museums on a developmental
course that could eradicate past and present inequalities
in cultural representation of diverse peoples. If culture,
as pointed out by the Report of the World Commission on Culture
and Development, published in 1995, 'is understood as the
basis of development', it follows that sustainable development
will only be possible if it is acutely sensitive to, and profoundly
inspired by the history and cultures of all people in the
beyond the traditional view of culture as either an impediment
or facilitator of development, it is now accepted that political,
social and economic development can not be divorced from
the human and cultural context of any society. Thus while
changes in museums are aimed at achieving equity in access
to resources and opportunities, the underlying objective
is to achieve higher levels of excellence in all spheres
of life by engaging the entire population and drawing on
the full diversity of local culture, heritage, experience
following ten key issues are central to the way museums
throughout the world are addressing the wide range of issues
with cross cultural dimensions. They are not in any order
recognition that Cultural diversity is a historical and
social reality at the local, regional, national and global
levels and that museums should reflect the cultural diversity
of the clientele constituencies. The cultural diversity
of different nations is a rich inheritance of humanity
that will endure as the central pillar for peace, harmony
and cultural sustainability of the world. The promotion
of this global inheritance through the processes of cultural
pluralism is the responsibility of all societies. There
is a fundamental need to acknowledge that all cultures
and their manifestations are equally valid in a culturally
democratic world. Within this context museums in different
parts of the world are exploring ways of relating to community
cultural and economic development, the sense of place,
identity and self-esteem of different people.
of inclusive museology which has the capacity to address
different contextual frameworks of cultural diversity
including a multiplicity of interactions and cultural
borders. These borders include race, ethnicity, colour,
gender, class, age, physical ability, regions, location,
language, faith, creed, economic status, sexual preference
and so on.
awareness about the cultural needs of minorities, indigenous
populations and 'societies in transition' who have experienced
disempowerment through displacement, dispossession and
the ravages of war. The particular concerns of minorities
whose cultural self-esteem and hence well-being is at
risk through a process of overt or covert marginalisation
in mainstream societies are being addressed by museums
in different parts of the world. There is an increasing
demand to address the post-colonial position of transplanted
populations, such as the descendants of slave trades and
indentured labour practices, and their disadvantaged inheritance
due to the practices of colonialism and imperialism through
the promotion of cultural exchanges between root and diasporic
cultures. The international museum community is also playing
an active role in the reconstruction and development of
institutions ravaged by recent developments in Eastern
Europe and other parts of the world.
recognition of the homogenising and universalising tendencies
of a cultural discourse that fails to recognise the cultural
borders of gender and ethnicity. The ethno specific nature
of women's issues in both cultural and developmental concerns
are yet to be properly understood. The urgent need is
to consider the spectrum of cultural and developmental
concerns of women working to critique histories of race,
culture, ethnicity and gender in different parts of the
world. The need to address the interface of gender and
ethnicity and equity in gender participation are concerns
that are poorly addressed in planning and developmental
processes of museums. While there is a recognition for
the universal considerations of gender discourse, there
is still very little effort at trying to understand the
ethno specific contexts of gender situations. This has
led to situations of cultural alienation and further marginalisation
of women in many parts of the world. This is further compounded
when intersections of gender and ethnicity include sexuality.
Ethno specific concerns of gender and sexuality are an
integral part of cultural justice discourse.
some parts of the world museums are addressing gender,
culture and developmental concerns through :
for the development of a critique of race, gender
and ethnicity based on the cultural, theoretical and
practical concerns of women in different parts of
the world so as to develop a discourse of gender inclusivity
in pluralistic contexts.
projects that address the intersections of ethnicity,
gender and sexuality.
right to self-empowerment, artistic and cultural achievement
of women of different cultural backgrounds, artistic
and cultural heritage values.
are increasingly challenged to address cross cultural
generational concerns through being relevant to children,
young people and senior citizens in multicultural societies.
There are several countries that are concerned about aging
populations. Some of these are developing projects and
policies on what is called 'successful aging'. The cultural
background of aging populations is a recognised concern
in addressing developmental approaches to planning in
cities. Museums are becoming aware of the need to participate
in such initiatives. Similarly the challenges to establishment
museums to make themselves relevant to new generations
of children and young people and the concerns of governments
with high levels of youth unemployment have led to a new
focus on children's and youth arts and cultural projects
across the world. Museums should connect to play a seminal
role where the confidence and cultural self-esteem of
youth are coupled with the creation of cultural industry
employment opportunities in innovative ways.
addressing concerns of cultural democracy are endeavouring
to develop frameworks for ensuring that the mainstream
cultural development is integrative, not assimilationist,
and that there are best practice frameworks built on genuine
commitment to being inclusive. This approach to diversifying
mainstream museological practice will be critical to negotiation
platforms that ensure economic development contributes
to the enrichment and not the erosion of cultural and
heritage value systems. One of the binary oppositions
that continues to haunt cultural and developmental concerns
is the dichotomy of cultural maintenance and cultural
development. Cultural maintenance or living heritage concerns
of language preservation, promotion of voices, values
and traditions are central to ensure that the cultural
and economic outcomes of developmental concerns are in
the best interests of local, regional, national and global
cultural diversity. Cultural development is best perceived
as a dynamic concern when it contributes to furthering
the self-esteem and sense of place of the particular contexts.
Thus the non-duality of cultural maintenance and cultural
development should be emphasised as a dynamic process
in all contexts as an integral part of community cultural
development. The role of museums as catalysts in community
cultural development is a concern across the world. The
role of community cultural centres as hubs of such development
is being debated, discussed and recognised.
are increasingly using networking and cultural exchanges
as critical tools for effective cultural and economic
communication and sharing of different approaches to overcoming
difficulties, achieving pluralistic objectives and enhancing
organisational performance. There is an increasing demand
for museums to develop networking frameworks for addressing
concerns of cultural diversity. However, the international
profiling of model projects or case studies is very poor.
There is an urgent need to share and exchange ideas and
models on the different approaches to achieving a balance
between culture, diversity, heritage and development concerns.
technologies have become a global developmental reality
for museums across the world irrespective of their economic
contexts. However, the question of the accessible interface
with these new technologies and their cultural impacts
have not been addressed. While information technologies
will provide better access to services and cultural exchanges,
several issues such as the possible global exploitation
of intellectual and cultural property rights, the imposition
of dominant value systems of those in positions of privilege
with the new technologies and the actual control of the
technologies are yet to be addressed within the context
of museums, culture and development. Proactive measures
are needed to ensure that the North South dichotomy is
not accentuated by the impact of new technologies. It
is clear that an alliance of culture and development must
ensure that there are information technology mechanisms
for addressing the heritage concerns of minorities and
global cultural diversity. Science and technology education
also needs to be further developed in several countries
through museums addressing the challenges of the new information
recognition of the need for museum management practices
through addressing cultural pluralism and best practice
frameworks. There is a need to promote museums to adopt
the basic principle of best practice that ensures a generally
pluralistic corporate culture. Organisations that are
committed to cultural diversity should nurture a corporate
culture that is reflective of the pluralistic nature of
the clientele populations. Best practice frameworks could
be used as management tools for bringing about change
and developing a pluralistic corporate culture. Case studies
that demonstrate organisational performance should be
show cased and shared. With dwindling state support for
museums across the world, addressing the balance between
cultural economics and cultural equity agendas will be
the biggest challenge for the twenty first century and
museums should be positioned to address this challenge.
have increasingly become forums for the promotion of community
relations and peace. In addressing the problems of the
world created due to inadequate cross cultural understanding,
historical fears and ethnic tensions, museums are increasingly
connecting with the important role that they can play
in the promotion of cultural understanding through negotiated
activities driven by community relations strategies.
the International Council of Museums (ICOM) accept this report
as a flexible and ongoing document which provides a departure
point for addressing cross cultural issues through constructive
the Executive Council of ICOM endorse the change of
the name of the group from Working Group on Cross Cultural
Issues (WGCCI) to Cross Cultural Taskforce (CCT) in order
to reflect the task oriented work based on the strategic plan.
the Executive Council of ICOM agree to the Chairperson
of the CCT in consultation with the Secretary General of ICOM,
co-opting specialist on particular projects and applying for
project based resources from appropriate agencies.
the International Executive Council of ICOM agree to accountability
for the CCT work through regular progress reports to the Council
for its biennial meetings.
Cultural Taskforce: Aims and Objectives
to examine and report on the ways that museums throughout
the world are addressing the wide range of issues with
cross cultural dimensions;
inclusive approaches and guidelines concerning the way
that museums should endeavour to deal with cultural diversity
in general and indigenous and multicultural issues in
and make appropriate recommendations concerning the ways
that cross cultural perspectives should be enhanced in
the work of ICOM and its committees.
work of the Cross Cultural Taskforce of the Executive Council
will be guided by the following seven principles:
CULTURAL DIVERSITY: Recognition and
affirmation of cultural diversity at the local, regional
and international levels and the reflection of this diversity
in all policies and programs of museums across the world.
PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY: Promotion of
heritage representation with active input from all stakeholders
through appropriate processes of consultation, negotiation
COOPERATION AND COORDINATION: Cooperation
and coordination to share projects and enhance cultural
exchanges so as to maximise on resources and expertise at
the regional and global levels.
PEACE AND COMMUNITY BUILDING: Promoting the
sense of place and identity of diverse peoples through the
appreciation of their diverse inheritances and the fostering
of a shared vision inspired by the spirit of reconciliation.
INNOVATION AND INSPIRATION: Fostering
of creativity and the development of challenging approaches
to stimulate inclusive heritage consciousness in multicultural
CAPACITY BUILDING: Directed and sustained
endeavours to increase the operational capacity of museums
to respond to transformation and changes in multicultural
societies with vigour and insight.
RESOURCEFULNESS: Maximisation on the
ways that will encourage the diversification of resources
to address competing demands of cultural equity concerns
and cultural economics.
Key Result Area - Capacity Building
an effective program for the development of the capacity
of museums to address cross cultural issues.
Objective: to establish a strategic program
for the development of skills and competencies of museum
workers across the world for addressing cross cultural issues
The Executive Council will pursue through the Cross Cultural
Taskforce and relevant International Committees of ICOM
strategic ways to empower members of ICOM with the capacity
to address and manage cross cultural issues in an efficient,
effective, sustainable and professional way.
In the revision of ICOM Syllabus by ICTOP, consider approaches
to the inclusive training of personnel.
Establish a special project on the skills and competencies
required for the development and promotion of science and
technology education through museums in multicultural societies.
Promote Regional Schools of Inter Cultural Museology through
the Regional Organisations of ICOM.
Establish relevant cross cultural professional development
programs for regional clusters of countries through distance
education or modular delivery combined with work place skills
Develop regional nodal points through existing training
resource centres which enable members to access both regional
and international materials for cross cultural curricula
individual skills and competencies of museum workers and
complementary mix of skills within museum organisations
which is specifically directed to addressing cross cultural
broadening of museum clientele across cultural groups
increased diversity of presentation materials drawing
on the resources of different cultures
Key Result Area - Development of Inclusive Museology
a museological discourse that is inclusive of indigenous
and cross cultural concerns being addressed by museums across
Objective: Development and promotion
of Inclusive Museology.
The Executive Council will develop through the Cross Cultural
Taskforce and the relevant International Committees of ICOM
approaches to promoting Inclusive Museology, including the
profiling of identified best practices that can be applied
to different environments.
Consider the possibility of extending the Definition of
a Museum in the ICOM Statutes so as to include Cultural
Centres that deal with preservation, conservation and interpretation
of heritage values.
Encourage action research projects for the promotion of
Develop a framework for understanding and engaging with
diverse notions of aesthetics in art museums.
Develop and distribute a detailed Issues Paper for discussion
by the International and National Committees of ICOM.
Negotiate with the Editor of Museum International for a
special issue on cross cultural issues.
Negotiate with the Secretary General for producing small
scale publications assisting the promotion of cultural diversity
in museum practice E.g. Indigenous People and Museums as
part of the Study Series.
Initiate discussions for an inclusive museological text
with commercial publishers.
diversity of background amongst museum workers and their
managers, better reflecting the range of race, ethnicity,
class, gender and faith found in the client community
diversity of museum users, better reflecting the range
of race, ethnicity, class, gender and faith found in the
Key Result Area - Cooperation and Coordination - Inter Cultural
of cooperation and coordination for inter cultural exchanges
and mutually enriching partnerships between members.
Objective: Promotion of Inter Cultural
Exchanges based on the principle of cooperation and coordination
to address key cross cultural concerns and share experiences
and constructive projects.
The Executive Council will develop through the Cross Cultural
Taskforce and relevant International Committees of ICOM
an Inter Cultural Exchange agenda to empower members of
ICOM with the capacity to address cross cultural issues
and further the cooperation and coordination of the global
Promote interdisciplinary dialogue and approaches through
the International Committees of ICOM for enabling meaningful
Negotiate with regional, national and international organisers
of meetings, workshops, exhibitions and conferences of cultural
agencies to address the benefits of inter cultural exchanges.
Increase support for smaller regional clusters of countries
such as those covered by the Museums Association of the
Caribbean and the Pacific Island Museums Association.
Stimulate and promote research on the understanding of cultural
diversity in regional, national and international contexts.
Establish a program through strategic partnerships to raise
global museum awareness about the role and needs of indigenous
peoples in the preservation of their heritage.
Promote heritage projects that address the links between
root and diasporic cultures.
Promote exchange of museological projects dealing with gender
Explore the feasibility of designated cultural exchanges
through museums for projects dealing with the heritage values
and concerns of children, young people and senior citizens.
expand their range of partnerships and networks for cultural
workers and their managers enhance their awareness of
cultural diversity and linkages
of cultural resources draws on an increased range of perspectives,
including cross-cultural viewpoints, comparison of cultural
values, and viewing resources from a multiplicity of viewpoints
Key Result Area -Cross Cultural Museum Communication
of communication between members and museums of ICOM for
sharing of cross cultural ideas and projects and developing
effective ways of maximising benefits from the use of new
technologies for the promotion of cultural diversity.
Objective: To promote ICOM Cross Cultural
Communication activities to empower members of ICOM with
the capacity to address cross cultural issues.
The Executive Council will, through the Cross Cultural Taskforce
and relevant International Committees of ICOM promote Cross
Cultural Communication activities to address key cross cultural
concerns, share experiences and projects and engage in a
Negotiate with the Editor of ICOM News for regular contributions
through a Cross Cultural Museum Column - including a "Marketplace
of Ideas" and projects.
Negotiate with the Editor of Museum International for regular
contributions on cross cultural dimension of museums that
are relevant to the particular focus of different issues.
Establish a Web Page on Cross Cultural Issues.
Develop the criteria and a discussion document for consideration
of the Executive Council to provide endorsement to multimedia
products including CDs that promote cultural diversity in
museums and associated heritage agencies.
Consider the establishment of a focus through the
ICOM Documentation Centre for members to send information,
publications and project reports that deal with relevant
cross cultural issues.
Negotiate with key publishers in different languages to
commission manuals, texts and readers focusing on cross
cultural heritage concerns.
draw on external assistance to address challenging concerns
or develop innovations
challenges and opportunities are identified by museums,
leading to joint strategies and actions
about individual or joint initiatives and their relative
success is disseminated to other museums on a regular
Key Result Area - Policy Development
policy development that informs cross cultural dimension
of the development of museums.
Objective: Policy development for ensuring
that cross cultural Issues are addressed as an integral
part of mainstream museum development initiatives.
The Executive Council will, through the Cross Cultural Taskforce,
address relevant aspects of cross cultural policy development
and coordination covering all appropriate areas relating
Draft a discussion document through the National Committees
of ICOM for the development of inclusive membership.
Consider modifications or additions to the ICOM Code of
Ethics through the Ethics Committee of ICOM in addressing
clearly identified cross cultural issues.
Invite National Committees of ICOM to send to the ICOM Documentation
Centre copies of their national cultural policies, museum
policies and any other relevant documentation that deals
with policies in relation cross cultural issues, especially
Indigenous and Multicultural concerns.
Encourage regional organisations to address during regional
assemblies as to how best they can address cross cultural
concerns in partnership with member countries by focusing
on common agendas of their national policies.
Promote discussions and seminars on Museums and
Cultural and Heritage Tourism so as to encourage responsible
Initiate liaison with ICOMOS, World Heritage Centre, ICCROM
and WIPO for addressing common cross cultural concerns.
Develop discussion documents for the membership of ICOM
based on the UN Draft Declarations on the World' Indigenous
People and the Rights of Minorities in relation to museums
and cultural rights issues.
Consider the establishment of sponsored international awards
for model museum policies that promote cultural diversity.
museums are aware of policies being developed, and feel
able to contribute
development draws on the broad range of experience of
museums, and their appreciation of implementation issues
are developed which are useful in guiding decision making
and resolving problems for individual museums
is broad support amongst museums for the policies that
have been developed
Key Result Area -Resource Development
of a resource base or fund for promoting the cross cultural
dimension of museums.
Objective: To develop an enabling environment
for members in countries where economic constraints may
impinge on effective development of cross cultural dimension
The Executive Council will, through the Cross Cultural Taskforce,
develop a feasibility study addressing a resource enhancement
strategy for the promotion of cultural diversity with particular
reference to regions and countries that face economic constraints
in the development of cross cultural approaches in museums.
Resourcing of a feasibility study that takes into consideration
Conduct a study into the impact of dwindling
government support on the smaller organisations, especially
those dealing with indigenous and multicultural concerns.
of funds for regional museum development and cooperation
on cross cultural issues
of potential donors that are prepared to commit themselves
to the promotion of cultural diversity through museums
projects between countries with established museum infrastructure
and those which need assistance
for accessing ICOM sponsored resource base assistance
for the promotion of cross cultural issues.
Develop through ICTOP Train the Trainer initiative an intensive
program of development focussing on long range programming,
board management for strategic development and rigorous
fiscal planning for small organisations that are dealing
with indigenous and multicultural heritage.
strategies for broadening the resource base of individual
museums, involving the private as well as the public sector,
and drawing on community resources
opportunities for commercialising museum functions in
ways which will not prejudice their core objectives and
guidelines used by individual museums seeking to expand
their resource base or otherwise commercialise their operations
for discussion by International Council of Museums (ICOM):
Museums and Cultural Diversity Working Group on Cross
Cultural Issues , April 1997, and to be forwarded to the ICOM
General Assembly, Melbourne, Australia, October 1998 for consideration
should be addressed to the Secretary-General of ICOM or
the Chair of the Working Group (address below) or to the
Chairperson of your ICOM National or International Committee.
Professor Amareswar Galla, Ph.D
Chairperson, Cross Cultural Taskforce,ICOM
PO Box - 3175 Manuka,
ACT 2603 Australia
Fax +61 2 6298 3908