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Workshop on Museums and Intangible Heritage - Asia Pacific Approaches
7th Regional Assembly of the Asia Pacific Organisation International Council of Museums (ICOM)
Shanghaï, China, 20-25 October 2002

ICOM membership commitment to protecting the vulnerable intangible heritage is so great that the theme of the General Assembly of ICOM 2004 in Seoul, Korea, is Intangible Heritage. However, the current level of professional dialogue needs to be developed in a regional context of the Asia Pacific. This is even more important in the face of globalisation that poses the greatest threat to the continuity of intangible heritage in diverse cultural situations. It is this concern that led the ICOM Asia Pacific Organisation to identify a focussed workshop on Museums, Intangible Heritage and Globalisation as a preparatory activity, the outcomes of which would inform ICOM 2004.

The workshop was facilitated and organised as an integral part of the Asia Pacific Regional Assembly of ICOM, which took place from 20 - 25 October 2002 in Shanghai, China. For practical purposes it was understood that intangible heritage resources consist of voices, values, traditions, languages, oral history, folklife, creativity, adaptability and the distinctiveness of a people. These could be centred on a place or a collection or a group of people in a particular cultural heritage context. The workshop dealt with both tangible and intangible heritage resources in a holistic context and considered museums as key vehicles for documentation, preservation and promotion of these resources.

Participation in the workshop:
For the preparation, implementation and follow-up of this Workshop, ICOM and ASPAC (Asia and Pacific Organisation of ICOM) worked closely with ICOM China. The participants were mainly members of ICOM and heritage professionals from the Asia Pacific region, UNESCO delegates and national decision-makers who are dealing with intangible heritage. At least two participants from each of the countries of the Asia Pacific Region were targeted. Moreover ICOM supported the attendance of a small number of participants based on specialist papers and contributions from developing countries in the Asia Pacific.

By the end of the workshop, participants identified recommendations for future actions at national and regional levels in order to protect intangible heritage in the Asia and Pacific Region by:

  1. Identifying culturally diverse perceptions of intangible heritage;
  2. Profiling the respective national frameworks for the protection of intangible heritage;
  3. Establishing a plan of action for regional dialogue and advocacy; and
  4. Fostering integrated approaches to tangible and intangible heritage management in museums and heritage organisations.

The following results are anticipated from the proceedings of the workshop:

  • Publication of a regional template of the recommended framework for action on the web that could be translated into various languages by the respective National Committees of ICOM
  • Publication of the proceedings of the Workshop in English and Chinese
  • Improved regional cooperation
  • Identification of lead-up activities and conceptual framework for ICOM 2004
  • Capacity building for participants in the protection of intangible cultural heritage and
  • Contribution to the International Convention on the Protection of Intangible Heritage of Humanity that has been mooted by UNESCO

The participants drew up a Charter for the protection of Intangible Heritage (Shanghai Charter) affirming the significance of creativity, adaptability and the distinctiveness of peoples, places and communities as the framework in which the voices, values, traditions, languages, oral history, folk life and so on are recognised and promoted in all museological and heritage practices and recommending actions for museums as facilitators of constructive partnerships in the safeguarding of this heritage of humanity.
The 7th General Assembly of ICOM-ASPAC signed an appeal to assist the National Museum of Afghanistan

Proceedings of the Workshop on Museums and Intangible Heritage - Asia Pacific Approaches will be soon published.



Updated: 11 July 2005