Thursday, May 17, 2007

International Museum Day 2007: Towards A Sacred, Ecological, Humanistic, Exchange-Based, And Sustainable World Museum Culture

"On International Museum Day 2007 [May 18], ICOM encourages museums to announce “Universal Heritage Museum Partnerships” for long-term cooperation, especially between museums with extensive, encyclopaedic collections and those museums and communities from which these collections have been derived.

Dividends from highly profitable international museum operations might certainly be reinvested in setting up annexes or sustainable museum development programmes in those countries from which the collections have emerged. Museums claiming for themselves the title “universal museums” must by the same token accept responsibility for universal access to that heritage for which they are merely the custodian, not the owner. No one can own the heritage which rightfully belongs to specific cultures in specific places and times and through history, to all of

As Universal Heritage is something to share, not to own, there are also cultural dividends to consider. Ignorance is dispossession. The amazing breadth of knowledge, research and image banks related to specific objects in museum collections must be shared through new technologies. In addition to returning museum objects and co-ownership schemes, what can and should be shared universally and in particular with countries of origin and “source communities” are the images, including intellectual property rights to the reproduction of those images, and importantly, the literature, documentation, research and bodies of knowledge or cultural understanding developed about civilizations by virtue of possessing these objects.

This is what ICOM means by supporting “digital repatriation”, as expressed by Bernice Murphy at the public debate organised by UNESCO - “Memory & Universality” on 5 February. It’s not simply the image of an object in lieu of its return. Digital repatriation requires a long-term and enduring cooperation between museums, most notably along with universities and research institutions, to ensure open access to the databanks on collections.

ICOM will support through its worldwide network partnerships between “universal museums” of the have’s with the “source community” museums of the have not’s. The obligatory returns must start with the return of the tangible objects and intangible dividends upon which some museums have capitalized over time, but which when returned will bring a new measure of peace through justice, the return of the spirit of the gift."

Alissandra Cummins "Universal Heritage Museum Partnerships" The International Council of Museums

Hildegard K. Vieregg "ICOM's Universal Heritage"

Italian Renaissance style courtyards of the Lviv History Musuem, Lviv, Ukraine, Future Europeaen Union; and the Collegium Maius, the oldest college of Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, European Union.

Photo credits: (c) and naruto at With thanks.


Post a Comment

<< Home