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2001 "Museums: building community"


On 18th May museums the world over will be celebrating International Museum Day on the theme "Museums: building community".
The theme, which was adopted by ICOM's Advisory Committee last June, underlines the importance of the social role of the museum and recalls the definition of the museum as a permanent institution in the service of society and of its development.
International Museum Day was created in 1977 at ICOM's 12th General Assembly. This annual event provides the opportunity to draw the public's attention to museum programmes through activities taking place on and around 18th May.


The theme "Museums: building community" can be adapted to all types of museums and to all countries in the world. The accounts given in the pages that follow illustrate diverse aspects of the theme through concrete examples. Thus, in a Swedish initiative, "Keys to Memory", where personal objects placed in the museum represent personal histories and experience, the museum acts as mediator for the diverse local populations and as a vector for exchange and shared understanding. The conception of the museum as both building and built by local communities emerges from the Fresnes Ecomuseum in France, which brings the museum to local inhabitants and local inhabitants to the museum, through a range of innovative participatory projects. One step further in this direction, and the museum becomes a centre developed and managed by the community, as in our example from the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. A different aspect of the relationship between the museum and the community is offered by the Immigration Museum in Australia, which presents through its displays the collective memory of a country built on immigration, while also targeting specific local communities through tailored activities in a variety of languages. The museum thus builds a new community of visitors who might never otherwise have taken an interest in museums. A virtual museum from Uruguay gives a further perspective on the museum's role as actively building a community of museum visitors, harnessing new technologies to this concept and addressing the issues at stake.
The bibliography will give you a broader perspective on the reflexions around the theme over the last few years.

Articles around the theme:

EXCHANGE - Key to memory
INNOVATION - Cyberspace Communities: MUVA, the Virtual Museum Of Arts El País
DEVELOPEMENT - A model community museum in a village in the High Atlas
INTEGRATION - Celebrating Australia's multicultural history
PARTICIPATION - A community regulates its own heritage

Articles published in: "ICOM News", Volume 54 - 2001 N°1

Updated: 22 September 2005