Remembering two major figures in the history of ICOM
Zbyněk Zbyslav Stránský and Vinos Sofka, two leading figures in the field of museology, passed away in early 2016. We would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to these two men who contributed to the emergence of museology as an academic discipline. Both from the Czech Republic and both founding members of ICOM's International Committee for Museology (ICOFOM), they influenced several generations of museologists, not only from Central Europe but also from Sweden, Germany, France and Latin America.
Vinos Sofka democratised museology from Sweden throughout Scandinavia, where he was forced to immigrate after Prague was invaded by Soviet troops in the spring of 1968. A founding member of ICOFOM in 1977, he became its publications editor (beginning in 1979), then Executive Board member (in 1980) and finally Chair in 1982. Since 1995, Vinos Sofka was a Permanent Advisor to ICOFOM and became its Honorary President. The leading museologist was also a member and then Vice President of the ICOM Executive Council from 1992 to 1995 and finally became a member emeritus in 2007 for services rendered to the field of museology around the world. Vinos Sofka was also actively involved in writing for ICOFOM's various publications.
Zbyněk Zbyslav Stránský helped popularise museology in Eastern Europe. The creator of a museology department at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, he helped bring international acclaim to the city of Brno in 1987 with the founding of the International Summer School of Museology (ISSOM), in partnership with UNESCO. Zbyněk Zbyslav Stránský strengthened the scientific legitimacy of the discipline by making it part of the academic system, dedicating himself during his career to defining a number of concepts, including musealisation and museality.
Vinos Sofka believed that ICOFOM's role was not to answer questions about museology, but to bring them to light, reflect on them and contribute to their analysis, all while making museology into its own academic discipline – a strong vision that will no doubt be shared by his successors.