"Museums: building community"
building community". The theme chosen for this year's
International Museum Day was greeted with enthusiasm
in all corners of the globe. The reports below certainly
reflect the sense of community which prevails among
ICOM members and the importance of this event for museum
notion of "building community" is particularly relevant
to museums, underlining the importance of their social
rôle and recalling the definition of the museum as
a permanent institution in the service of society
and its development. This year's theme was interpreted
in a wide variety of ways and we hope the following
examples will give you some idea of the scope offered
by this annual event.
great many countries, such as Switzerland
celebrated the occasion by allowing free admission
into museums and exhibitions or by organising open
days. Meetings and general assemblies were held to
coincide with the event. In Barbados
the ICOM National Committee open day was integrated
into Cultural Heritage Week and at the National Committee
General Assembly in Cameroon,
conference speeches were devoted to the theme and
a visit to the Douala Museum was organised. Austria
held a symposium of specialists in the Linz Castle
Museum, who debated the current social context of
the museum institution, stressing the transformations
linked to the new economic rôle of the museum and
the difficulties of coping with the range of demands
made on museum professionals today. Peru
organised a month-long programme of conferences and
visits nationwide, which illustrated the importance
of the museum as a catalyst for national culture and
Kong held a highly successful "Museums Panorama"
with academic and educational events as well as a
programme of entertainment. In Brazil,
SEM, which represents state-run museums, organised
over fifty events in the regions of Rio Grande do
Sul, including the third meeting of the National Committee.
The programme emphasised the decentralisation and
democratisation of knowledge, aimed at preserving
our cultural and social memory. ICOFOM Brazil also
published a greetings card on its website, which read
"Solidarity is learning to work through difference.
Happy International Museums Day!"
the first time, ICOM-Germany,
the German Museums' Association and regional museum
groups turned International Museum Day into a nationwide
event, by holding a press conference and producing
a specially commissioned poster. Croatia
also designed an original poster, while Spain
published both a poster and a detailed leaflet explaining
the theme and in Badalona opened a number of archaeological
sites normally closed to the public. Iran's
National Committee printed a catalogue of International
Museum Day events all over the country. The Museum
of Fine Arts in Paraguay
held an exhibition to coincide with 18th May, dedicated
"to all the museums in the world" , featuring the
country's rich tradition of ceramics, the symbol of
the collective memory of the Paraguayan people. Bolivia
marked the occasion by producing a gift box of postcards
representing the lavish exhibition of textiles held
in the National Ethnological and Folklore Museum.
The box included a detailed explanation of this year's
theme in the Bolivian context, stressing the rôle
of textiles both as everyday and ritual objects as
an expression of national identity and social cohesion,
through the involvement and participation of local
devoted 18th May to "the state of the historic heritage
in Bormla (Cospicua)". A conference was organised
to stir public opinion in the face of the irreparable
destruction caused to Bormla's heritage, much of it
destroyed for the sake of modern housing projects,
and detailed proposals to protect and preserve the
site were outlined before national heritage professionals
and the general public.
States, the American Association of Museums (AAM)
sponsored an international lunch for which each staff
member had to display their culinary creativity. The
Islands focused on traditional arts and crafts,
with a "Made in Cayman" series of exhibits in its
National Museum, artwork by the island's "Native Sons"
and a collection of furniture, carved entirely out
of local wood, by local artist Wilbanks Miller. North
Side community members brought along examples of craftwork
and entertained visitors with music, food and storytelling.
the celebrations were hosted by the Sabah Museums
Department and there was something for all, with a
sports carnival featuring staff members, a mini marathon
(Muziumthon), an art competition for schoolchildren,
a museum-hunt and a lucky family prize for visitors
to the museum. The organisers, in cooperation with
village elders, also selected Kampong Rapak in Ranau
as the Museum Adoptee Village of the year. The Prague
National Museum in the Czech
Republic offered a wide variety of events, including
puppet shows and demonstrations of ancient crafts
such as lace-making, baking and straw doll weaving.
The regional museums also took an active part; in
the Moravian Museum visitors were shown the separation
of DNA, and in the zoological reserve of Budi?ov,
it was the children's turn to act as guides.
Children were also in their element with Canada's
specifically designed website, featuring an interactive,
bilingual treasure hunt to discover the virtual world
of 23 museums and on BCB radio listeners were asked
to send in a story describing the item they would
like to see included in a "Virtual Roundup Museum"
collection. Tomorrow's museum visitors also found
plenty to do in Zimbabwe,
discovering objects in imitation archaeological digs
and participating in a nationwide quiz. Traditional
marimba and mbira music also played a significant
part in the celebrations.
Africa's Education Museum at the Centre for Conservation
Education in Cape Town interpreted this year's theme
in a particularly original manner, by organising an
exhibition entitled "Bugs for Africa", chosen because
many insects live in communities. Flyers and posters
publicised the event and worksheets were produced
especially for the occasion. Staff devised a whole
range of insect-related activities, such as stamping
cards with insect rubber imprints, examining creatures
through microscopes, creating bugs from waste materials
and carrying out arthropod word-searches.
These reports are an example of the energy,
enthusiasm and inventiveness of museum colleagues
all over the world, who are already looking forward
to next year's theme!
published in: "ICOM News", Volume 54 - 2001