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2000 "Museums for Peace and Harmony in Society"

   This year's theme, "Museums for Peace and Harmony in Society", reflected the United Nations's declaration of the year 2000 as "International Year for a Culture of Peace". The first issue of ICOM News this year was dedicated to the role of museums in creating and promoting a culture of peace, and many museums followed this theme in their celebrations.

A culture of non-violence

Numerous museums based their activities around the issue of peace. In Mexico, a series of workshops and activities promoted museums as forums for a culture of non-violence, and a workshop organised for children was entitled "Imagining your life without violence". In South Africa, the Center for Conservation Education (CCE) hosted an interactive exhibition entitled "Children, Chattels, and Camps", depicting how war affected the lives of people in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The exhibition, which involved reconstruction of the conditions at the time, led on to discussions around the issue of reconciliation. Ms. Sigi Howers from the CCE explained that "Only when ignorance is replaced with understanding, and suspicion with sympathy, can [people] from all walks of life develop a sense of shared history. This is what we set out to achieve". On the theme of reconciliation, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra celebrated International Museum Day with a seminar focusing on the Aboriginal reconciliation process, entitled "Museums and Reconciliation", and mounted an exhibition of Aboriginal art.
Interpreting the theme more broadly, Germany's 700 participating museums took for their working title "Museums as places of understanding in modern society"; joint initiatives between large and small museums also showed the diversity of museum work and the range of issues broached. In the U.S.A., activities at the Museum of Texas Tech University included talks on the tradition of the peace pipe and the fabrication of "friendship sticks" by children. In Italy, an exhibition on racism from 1911 to 1945 was programmed over International Museum Day, and a fresco created by children portraying their vision of the future was exhibited.
Many museums also took the opportunity of International Museum Day to promote the signature of the UNESCO Manifesto 2000, which involves a declaration of personal commitment, on a daily basis, to values and actions of justice, non-violence and tolerance (see ICOM News 1/2000). The goal of this Manifesto was to present 100 million signatures to the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2000, and many museums in Italy, Guinea, Swaziland, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and elsewhere contributed to this significant effort.

Museums opening up

Museums the world over contributed to making International Museum Day 2000 a joy and a success. In Singapore, an exhibition-cum-museum-fair was organised in a popular shopping mall, in order to showcase the various museums of the country and to inspire the interest of all. Activities for children were also organised, including opera-face painting sessions, pasta jewelry making and kampong games. A coordinated nationwide programme for museums ran throughout May in Peru, including inauguration of new exhibitions, of a new archaeological museum at Huaytará, a cycle of conferences on "For a culture of peace and progress" and an "Adopt a tree" initiative, under the title of "The tree of my museum...".ICOM-Sri Lanka took activities into rural areas and held a poster and art competition where the winners had their art diplayed in public. The Czech Republic actively promoted the Day with a large colour poster, a half-hour slot for ICOM-Czech Republic on the radio, as well as television coverage of its activities.

Sensitisation and study

Brazil saw a week of activites focused on the future of the museum in contemporary society and projects on storytelling and memory. In Portugal, the focus was on ecological and industrial heritage, with the aim of alerting people to their own local heritage and the need to defend cultural diversity, and ICOM-Madagascar inaugurated the Museum of Androna, devoted to the different cultural identities of the region. At the Marrakech museum in Morocco, study sessions issued in a 10-page document of recommendations for the promotion of museums in Morocco, and ICOM-Costa Rica and ICOM-Bulgaria organised conferences devoted to issues of importance to the museum community in their regions. Lively posters and stickers advertised the day and Croatia's Museum Documentation Center displayed the last 20 years of International Museum Day posters, showing the inspiration which this Day has provided over the years. And ICOM-Azerbaijan sent greetings to all taking part in International Museum Day 2000!

Articles published in: "ICOM News", Volume 53 - 2000 N°4

 
 
   
Updated: 21 September 2005