New York City 2023/abstracts
Tuesday, 17 October, 1:30-3:30 pm – Workshop sessions
Audience-focused decision making: Changing frameworks for museum practice
Ronay Menschel Hall
How are museums shifting the ways they make choices about programs, priorities, preservation, and collections? The workshop leaders will share experiences from the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC and the Historic New Orleans Collection in Louisiana. Attendees will also have a chance to try to apply the Anacostia Community Museum “Impact Decision Tree” to their own projects.
Using an Impact Framework to Change the Conversation about Environmentalism: The Anacostia Community Museum’s Year of the Environment at the Smithsonian
Rachel Seidman and Asantewa Boakyewa, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, DC, USA
The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum [ACM] in Washington, D.C., has long been a leader in community-based museum practice. From 2021-2026, the museum has committed to five annual themes based on issues of concern to local community members. 2023 is our Year of the Environment, during which we are establishing a new Smithsonian Center for Environmental Justice, launching the Environmental Justice Academy for local young women of color, opening a new exhibition, “To Live and Breathe: Women and Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C.,” and hosting myriad related programs. These efforts seek to change the mainstream climate and environment conversation by centering the experiences of people of color, including humanities-based inquiry and engagement, and highlighting the role that women have always played in the environmental justice movement. These efforts build on a more than 50-year commitment at the museum to engaging with local community members to understand the critical issues facing their lives and to bring wider public awareness and analysis to those issues.
Our panel of staff from ACM will discuss our recently-developed “impact framework,” and how it is shaping our work. This new framework, developed in collaboration with the Kera Collective, seeks to help the museum meet our stated goal, which is that “Individuals, informed by the past, collectively engage with present-day issues affecting those furthest from justice in greater Washington, DC and are inspired to effect change in their communities.” With new planning and assessment tools in place, we are building our ability to test our theory that what we do matters; that understanding the past can make a difference in communities’ present and future. This presentation will share information on how we developed the framework, how we have been using it, and what we have learned from recent assessment projects, and open up a conversation about how such tools could be useful to other city museums.
From Preservation to Stewardship: Using an Old Mission to Face New Challenges
Daniel Hammer and Heather Green, The Historic New Orleans Collection; David W. Robinson-Morris, REImaginelution; and Brent R. Fortenberry, Louisiana State University, USA
The Historic New Orleans Collection’s (THNOC) mission to steward the history and culture of New Orleans and its region originated in the historic preservation ethos of its founders, Kemper and Leila Williams, who collected Louisiana-related historical materials and purchased a residence in the French Quarter in 1938 to raise public awareness, by living there, of the oldest part of the city as a place of historic and cultural value. Since then, the heightened awareness of the French Quarter as a place of historic and cultural value has morphed into a tourism industry that is unsustainable, as many of its manifestations cause physical harm to the buildings and streets of the French Quarter while also eroding the cultural value of the historic district by alienating it from the local population, even if unintentionally. Climate change and major environmental challenges likewise threaten the area’s historic and cultural fabric.
This panel presentation by THNOC staff and community partners will explore ways THNOC has altered how it pursues its mission in order to face present-day sustainability challenges and enhance local community and cultural inclusivity. The presentation will focus on collections development, preservation and access and facilities management and restoration. THNOC head of reader services Heather Green and community advisor Dr. David Robinson-Morris will discuss how our museum seeks to use collections development and access initiatives to help diverse communities around New Orleans thrive in the cultural landscape. THNOC president and CEO Daniel Hammer and Dr. Brent Fortenberry, director of the historic preservation program at Tulane University School of Architecture and principle of Heritage Resource Management will discuss recent and upcoming historic building restoration projects and explain how THNOC centers sustainable building practices while also preserving historic fabric (including THNOC’s 38,000 square foot exhibition center completed in 2019 that is the French Quarter’s only LEED Silver certified building and qualified in-full for state historic tax credits worth 25% of the project’s cost). They will also share how THNOC prioritizes turning its historic buildings into venues for educational and entertaining museum activities that are welcoming and accessible to diverse audiences, including local community interests and tourists.
Keywords: Cultural Sustainability, Tourism, Preservation, Sustainable Building, Climate Change
Daniel Hammer is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans through his role as president and CEO of The Historic New Orleans Collection where he has worked for 18 years, serving in various capacities including as head of reader services and deputy director. Daniel earned a bachelor’s degree in German literature from Reed College, and a master’s degree in Historic Preservation from Tulane University School of Architecture.
Heather Green is the head of reader services at the Williams Research Center, part of the Historic New Orleans Collection, where she assists researchers in the use of manuscript material, artworks, and artifacts related to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf South. Heather holds a BS in Psychology, an MA in Journalism and Communication, and an MLIS. She serves on SSA’s Diversity & Outreach Committee and is also a member of AAIHS and LHA.
David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. is the founder and Chief Reimaginelutionary at The REImaginelution, LLC, a strategic consulting firm working to radically reimagine diversity, equity, and inclusion toward racial justice and systemic transformation by engendering freedom of the human spirit; and catalyzing the power of the imagination to reweave organizations, systems, and the world toward collective healing and liberation. David also founded The Center for the Human Spirit and Radical Reimagining which leverages the power of the collective social imagination.
Brent R. Fortenberry is Director of the Tulane Historic Preservation Program, Christovich Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, and Founder and Principal of Historic Resource Management Consultants. He is an interdisciplinary historic preservationist with training in vernacular architecture studies, architectural history, and historical archaeology. Fortenberry’s research explores the development of everyday buildings in the Greater Caribbean and wider Atlantic world. Methodologically he is interested in innovative ways to leverage digital technology for historic building documentation, interpretation, and engagement.
Can anywhere be a site of conscience?
Linda Norris, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, New York, NY, USA
City museums are traditionally charged with interpretive efforts inside museum walls and galleries. Many city museums,however, have expanded their work to think more expansively about the interpretation of places outside their walls. In this active workshop session, participants will explore ways to work collaboratively with local communities to identify sites of conscience–places that can tell stories of the past, present, and future of human rights. From climate change to religious persecution, from food deserts to Black Lives Matter protests, these spaces are abundant in any community. These sites might just be a corner in a neighborhood, the place where the church used to be, or the one tree that remains.
Founded in 1999, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) is the only worldwide network of Sites of Conscience. With over 350 members in more than 65 countries, works with members and partners remembering a variety of histories and come from a wide range of settings – including longstanding democracies, countries struggling with legacies of violence, as well as post-conflict contexts just beginning to address their transitional justice needs –but they are all united by their common commitment to use the lessons of the past to find innovative solutions to related social justice issues today.
Using methodologies drawn from our members’ experiences and decades of capacity-building and training, participants will together explore questions such as:
- What places are ignored or forgotten by dominant community narratives?
- What skills are needed to engage in inclusive and equitable justice-building with community members to identify places and encourage not only their commemoration but the ways the sites can help building more just, inclusive futures?
- In what ways can we, as museum professionals, share our skills and also open ourselves up to new learning and ways of working?
- How do we represent abstract ideas just as absence and hope?
Keywords: Community Interpretive practice, Future Sites of Conscience
Linda Norris is Senior Specialist, Methodology and Practice at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC), working on capacity-building for museums and historic sites worldwide. Linda is the co-author of Creativity in Museum Practice and her essay, “Yes, and: Museums as Safe and Social Spaces” is included in What is a Museum? Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders. Linda was a Fulbright Scholar to Ukraine in 2009 and continues working with Ukrainian museums.
Collecting the city through co-creation
Margriet Schavemaker & Gonca Yalciner, Amsterdam Museum, Netherlands
How can the Amsterdam Museum be a platform for what is happening today in its rapidly transforming and vibrant city? This question is at the core of Collecting the City, our ongoing program line where Amsterdammers can share their stories, especially marginalized stories of migration, and gentrification and trauma based on ethnicity, race, gender identity, religious community, sexual orientation, and other forms of exclusion.
Amsterdam has always been a diverse city, but this has not been sufficiently reflected in the museum’s collection or programs. With a traditional emphasis on seventeenth-century heritage, the dominant perspective was through the eyes of those in power: narratives of city pride, wealth and Amsterdam as a global power. Today, we seek to co-create presentations with our partners; projects that can take place throughout the city as well as at the Amsterdam Museum proper. We also have an online environment, and we collect objects and stories for the museum.
Our goal is to present more inclusive and diverse perspectives of Amsterdam, as well as to foster a shared feeling of ownership of our city. Co-creation differs from traditional museum practice, and has required deep changes in our ways of working with partners. For this interactive workshop, we invite museum practitioners to bring a concrete case or example that they can work with. We will briefly introduce Collecting the City projects and what co-creation entails: How to establish equal partnerships? What is the importance of learning about the needs and expectations of partners? In which ways can you guide partners – such as neighborhood initiatives or representatives of social movements – into sharing their own stories with a wider audience? How to enable a multidisciplinary approach to storytelling? In this way, we hope to have a fruitful exchange of knowledge, experiences and methodologies with other practitioners.
Keywords: communities, co-creation, Collecting the City, inclusion, neighborhoods
Margriet Schavemaker is artistic director of the Amsterdam Museum, and professor of Media and Art in Museum Practice at the University of Amsterdam. Counterculture, feminism, new media, and diversity and inclusion are at the heart of her practice.
Gonca Yalciner is manager of education and participation at the Amsterdam Museum. She leads the program line Collecting the City program line, and created a toolkit for co-creation with her team.
In search of collective memory: The New York Satellite of the Collective Museum
Eugénie Forno and Mohamed Fariji, Casablanca Collective Museum, Morocco
To emerge from its isolation, The Casablanca Collective Museum deploys its activities by orbiting the memory of cities worldwide. After various stages of the Collective Museum project in different districts of Casablanca, the Collective Museum led initiatives in Moroccan and foreign cities to develop its satellites: in Marrakech, Algiers, Tunis, Nouakchott, Sharjah, Sidi Harazem, Hamrun, Edinburgh, Marseille.
For CAMOC’s annual conference in New York City 2023, artist Mohamed Fariji, co-founder of l’Atelier de l’Observatoire and Casablanca Collective Museum, proposes to lead interactive activities. He will share the Satellite’s methodology and develop the Collective Museum of New York. Together with Eugénie Forno, independent curator and member of the Collective Museum, they will present the links between global and local negotiation. As we witnessed during ICOM Prague, this special context is embedded in a global strategy for redefining museums. During the workshop, participants will discuss how to initiate a citizen museum according to this methodology. We will discuss how an urban-scale museum can act on the local, regional, and international scene, bringing its own context and expertise and enhancing participatory democracy in museums and contemporary art. Indeed, The Collective Museum has a long experience in terms of negotiation and acting for Casablanca city, where no public museum exists.
The Collective Museum of New York’s session will be a participative workshop. Participants will research, and collect documents, archives, photographs, objects, and other memories embodying traces of a city’s life all about to disappear, already abandoned, or at risk of being forgotten. Participants will themselves create the memory of an area, a building, a window of the museum, collect a sound, investigate an archive, etc. in order to develop a common story and interpretation. The workshop will demonstrate the personal can become a collective story (through a scenographic study, a project presentation, a memorial object, or a collected archive) in order to involve citizens in a new vision of museums being active living bodies museums. Participants will then get inspired and guided on how to initiate a collective citizen museum through this methodology and the Satellite approach.
Keywords: Collective Citizen Museum, City Museum Satellites, Collective memory, Contemporary art, Negotiation for the city
Mohamed Fariji, born in Casablanca, graduated from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Tetouan and Llotja Higher School of Art and Design in Barcelona. He develops long-term artistic projects that question the role of artists and citizens in the city. His work involves public and political decision-makers and goes hand in hand with participatory workshops or performances in public spaces. Fariji created the Observatory in 2011. He is engaged in a critical and collective reflection on the possible reuse of public spaces, as part of his aesthetic investigation surrounding the abandoned Aquarium of Casablanca.
Eugénie Forno, born in Manosque, is an independent curator and artist based between Casablanca and Lyon. She graduated in Political Science from the Institute of Political Studies of Aix-en-Provence and in Gender Studies from Utrecht University. Eugénie Forno has worked in various journalistic and associative organizations in Paris and Casablanca. Situated in interdisciplinary practice, her work explores disappearance and reconstitution. Her reflection combines a socio-political and participatory approach.
Tuesday, 17 October, 4:00-5:30 pm – Afternoon panel sessions
Ronay Menschel Hall (Online access)
Moderator: Elka Weinstein, Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism & Culture Industries, Toronto, ON, Canada
Memory of Montrealers: Designing a new, inclusive institution with community at its heart
Catherine Charlebois, MEM-Centre des mémoires montréalaises, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Institutions grow and evolve, most often slowly, but sometimes in great spurts. Montréal’s History Center is currently going through a massive change, including a new brand, an updated mission, new permanent exhibitions and programming and a new building located right at Montréal’s heart, at the intersection of two of the city’s most iconic streets. Inclusivity is core to this institution’s mission and the process for creating and designing the new MEM-Centre des mémoires montréalaises (Montrealers’ Memories Center), which will be opening this Fall, has been conducted with extensive collaboration and consultation, Montréal residents being part of the process since Day 1. This presentation will explore the challenges and rewards that come with involving citizens in an ambitious project such as this one. And explore the making of this new institution, from strategy and planning to the design phases, highlighting how collaborative processes inform inclusive projects.
Keywords: Governance and representation; community co-curation; uses of history; oral histories
Catherine Charlebois is a curator, author, and researcher. She designs exhibitions to highlight not only different moments in the past, but also the memories of the citizens who lived and remember those times. She is recognized as a leader in the museum sector in the field of oral history and has led many museum projects which honor and defend the importance of living memory. She is now the Section Chief at the MEM – Centre des mémoires montréalaises. The new Centre d’histoire de Montréal where she has been the curator of exhibitions and collections from 2009 to 2019.
Geyer House: The opening of a new house museum in Brazil
Maurício Vicente Ferreira Júnior, Museu Imperial, Petrópolis, Brazil
The Geyer collection, which is considered by art historians and other specialists as the best assembled of iconographic works about Brazil from the 18th century to the end of 19th century, was donated to the Museu Imperial [Imperial Museum] by Maria Cecília e Paulo Fontainha Geyer in usufruct basis, in 1999. Paulo Geyer was a man of taste. During more than 40 years, he built a significant collection of 4.255 paintings, drawings, engravings, lithographs and books, produced by artists, scientists and travellers from different countries including names such as Charles DARWIN, Louis AGASSIZ, Pieter Godfred BERTICHEN, Emil BAUCH, Henry CHAMBERLAIN, Adalbert von PREUSSEN, Thomas ENDER, Jean-Baptiste DEBRET, Abraham Louis BUVELOT, Friedrich HAGEDORN, Raymond-Auguste Quinsac MONVOISIN, Dominique SERRES, Karl Robert von PLANITZ, SUNQUA, among many others.
After the death of Paulo Geyer and his wife, in 2004 and 2014 respectively, the Museu Imperial took over both, the collection and the 19th century house located at the borough of Cosme Velho, city of Rio de Janeiro, place blessed by the statue of Christ the Redeemer above the Corcovado mountain. At the same time, the surrounding area is the place of a favela called Cerro-Corá, a 3,000 people community who struggled to survive in a very poor environment. Nowadays the Museu Imperial is undertaking further arrangements to achieve the opening of a new house museum dedicated to the iconography of Rio de Janeiro, the so-called Brasiliana. More than that, the ultimate goal is to establish an interaction between the Cerro-Corá community and the Geyer Collection, presenting the people as part of the Rio de Janeiro history. From the past into the future. As the Siena Charter recommends, the Geyer House is a new house museum attempting to integrate the necessities of the Cerro-Corá community into the museum work.
So the Geyer House: The opening of a new house museum in Brazil is a contribution to the study of a donation process, made through public deed, and, also, to present the struggle to manage this legacy for partners and future generations.
Keywords City; Brasiliana, Community; Geyer
Master of Arts – Museum Studies (SUNY); Bachelor – History (UFRJ). Director, Imperial Museum, Brazilian Museums Institute, Ministry of Culture. President, Brazilian National Committee of UNESCO Memory of the World Program (2015-2017). Professor, Catholic University of Petrópolis. Member of the Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute. Member of the Paulista Museum Council, University of São Paulo. Member of the Liturgy and Art Council, Diocese of Petrópolis. Member of Petrópolis Academy of Education. Member of International Council of Museums.
Breaking the unbreakable: What are we afraid of
Sanda Kočevar, Karlovac City Museums, Croatia
Karlovac is a city of less than 50,000 inhabitants, situated in Central Croatia, 56 km southwestern of its capital Zagreb. Croatia is a member of EU and lies at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe. For almost 400 years Croatia was a part of the Habsburg Monarchy, i.e. Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and its population circulated within the boundaries. Morever, Karlovac is situated at the intersection of important roads and railway routes and it has always been the place of incoming and outgoing and the city’s motto is „The City of Encounters“.
Difficult past of the 20th century (WW1, WW2) and the Homeland War of 1990s changed the ethnic and religious structure of the city. Additionally, in recent past the city has faced global and regional migrations, offering temporary or permanent accommodation to a number of Syrian refugees.
However, the collecting and exhibiton policies of Karlovac Town Museums do not pay respect either to its changing communities or to the ethnic and religious diversity of its past as well as gender representation. Practices around diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and museum relationship to its communities are sporadic, more the act of individual efforts of some curators (through temporary exhibitions and publications) than the museum’s thoughtful policy.
Two permanent exhibitions have been reflecting the dominant paradigm which is – a male, Croat, Roman Catholic, straight and since 1990s non-comunist and a veteran of the Homeland war. Thus, the Museum neglects the part of its history and influences of the Jews, Orthodox, Roma, Czechs, Hungarians, Austrians. And the constituent part of Karlovac City Museums – the Museum of the Homeland war, opened four years ago, has been dealing with conflicting parties one-dimensionally; the Serbs have been the enemy (imposing the collective embodiment of guilt) and the Croats – the heroes (sweeping under the rug anything that might tarnish the idyllic picture).
The presentation will show the abundance of the city’s diversity through the history and through interaction and hopefully fruitful discussion offer possible approach, even some tips and trick, to a concept of a new permanent exhibition Karlovac city Museums are facing this year.
Keywords: Karlovac, predominant paradigm, prejudices, diversity
Sanda Kočevar is a historian, museum advisor in the Karlovac City Museums in Croatia with almost 30 years of experience in the museum sector. As a historian she objects the utilitarian use of historical sources for political purpose. Nonetheless, she takes the stand that museums are not and cannot be neutral and that they must reflect societal changes of any kind.
The challenge of change: The renewal of Tower of David Jerusalem Museum
Eilat Lieber, Tower of David Jerusalem Museum, Israel
The Tower of David Jerusalem Museum is a unique institution, the only museum in the world dedicated to the historical story of the city of Jerusalem which holds significance for three major monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and spans over 4000 years of rich history. In the second decade of the 21st century, the museum recognized the need for change.
Jerusalem, the modern capital of Israel, is a city of pilgrimage for people of all three faiths, and a city that is at the center of an inter-religious political conflict. It is perhaps the only city in the world whose past is critical in shaping its present and future. In recent decades, Jerusalem has undergone significant changes and is now the largest city in Israel, with a population of over a million people, welcoming 4 million tourists from around the world each year.
In the last seven years, the museum has undergone a comprehensive and extensive renewal process, with an investment of $50 million, in preparation for its reopening to the public in early June 2023. The proposed presentation will showcase the principles of the renewal process, in line with the renewed concept of the museum. These are:
1. The significant transformation from a historical museum to a city museum, including galleries for changing exhibitions addressing contemporary urban issues such as urban planning, preservation versus regeneration, communities, and local cultures.
2. Moving from a chronological presentation to a thematic one. While the historical background of the city holds importance and sanctity for believers, the city is a living space that celebrates historical events in the open urban area
3. Dilemmas of preservation versus renewal. Adapting an ancient historical site to incorporatie modern and up-to-date museum technologies while maintaining the integrity of an archaeological heritage site.
4. Conservation versus accessibility. The museum has recently received both national and international awards for physical and cognitive accessibility, but finding a balance between conserving the historical building and making it accessible to all visitors can be complex and requires careful decision-making.
5. Recognizing the inter-cultural and inter-religious complexity of Jerusalem. An inter-religious committee of clergy from all the city’s communities discuss sensitivities arising from different religious and cultural concepts that may sometimes be in conflict. This approach aims to ensure that the museum is respectful and inclusive of communities.
6. Creating a vital connection to the urban community by going out into the city itself.
7. Sustainability in a protected heritage site. The opportunity offered to incorporate environmentally friendly design despite the need to preserve an ancient structure.
Keywords: inter-religious, communities,contemporary urban issues,inclusive
Eilat Lieber, General Director and Chief Curator, Tower of David Jerusalem Museum. My Bachelor’s Degree – Industrial Design, Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem, and M. A Degree – Curatorial and Museum Studies, Tel Aviv University. For the 30 years of my professional life, I have been involved with museums in Israel – first through educational management and content development, continuing with curatorship for exhibitions dealing with cultural heritage, history and literature, and over the past 10 years I have managed change and renewal processes.
Thought, process and shifting concepts
Moderator: Jelena Savic, independent architect and lecturer, Porto, Portugal
Beyond regionalism: A conceptual framework for examining the national and global dimensions of city museums
Mohamed W. Fareed, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates/Egypt
City museums are essential institutions that contribute to the preservation of urban culture, heritage, and history. Their collections and exhibitions are essential resources that provide insight into the evolution of the city and the people who have lived there. While many studies have explored the role of city museums in promoting regionalism and local identity, there is a need for a conceptual framework that addresses their national and global dimensions. This paper aims to develop such a framework by examining the ways in which city museums contribute to national and global understandings of urban history, culture, and heritage. The framework builds on existing literature on cultural institutions, urbanization, and globalization, and it provides a useful tool for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners interested in the role of city museums in promoting national and global cultural exchange.
Keywords: City museums, National identity, Globalization, Urban culture, Heritage.
Mohamed W. Fareed, a researcher and architect, has two years of experience , holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture Design from Helwan University in Egypt (2020), and a Post- Graduate Diploma in “Urban Heritage Strategies” from Erasmus University Rotterdam (I.H.S) in the Netherlands (2022), and is currently enrolled in an MSc program in “Conservation Management of Cultural Heritage” at the University of Sharjah, UAE, supported by an ICCROM scholarship. His professional and academic experiences have been focused on the reinterpretation of cultural heritage in the Middle East. He is as active membe in both ICOM Egypt and ICOMOS.
Changing the city museum: About process and method
Joan Roca i Albert and Elena Pérez Rubiales, MUHBA – The History Museum of Barcelona, Spain
Change and continuity are the keys to all processes, from science, technology and economy to society, culture and the urban world. The idea of including change in continuity is present for a long time in museums and is at the origin of the concept of temporary exhibitions. But it’s possible to go much further if the principle is applied to the entire institution. The process of change ceases to be a specific time or space to become a way of doing. This principle has guided the process of transforming the Muhba from “city museum” to “citizens’ museum”. This way of working by interweaving processes makes it easier to mobilize resources in matters of knowledge and heritage spaces, collecting, programming… and funding! But for that it’s necessary to have, previously, a long-term strategic project, which allows to maintain the aims and rearrange them as often as is convenient in the midst of a situation of general, accelerated urban change. This is how, for example, it has been possible to create ten new heritage spaces of the MUHBA in recent years, taking advantage of, sometimes, unexpected occasions. This is the case of the new centers in the Besòs Heritage and Museum Trail, in the eastern outskirts of the city, and the new House of the History of Barcelona, inaugurated in March 2023 as the new epicenter of the museum, not only as an exhibition, but as an open and participatory research center.
The work in process strategy has been applied simultaneously and in an intersecting way to all museum fronts, from research, conferences and publications to exhibitions, itineraries, new heritage spaces and new collections. This has been the key to success in the metamorphosis of the MUHBA. Far from taylorist and fordist rationality, more flexible formulas can contribute to making city museums fundamental R+D+i nodes in knowledge, heritage and in the urban economy. The “what” and the “how” go together: the end result is important, but the process, as in the journey of Ulysses to Ithaca, is no less so.
Keywords: city museum, citizens’ museum, urban museology, museum processes, urban strategies
Joan Roca i Albert, trained as an urban geographer, is since 2007 the director of the MUHBA (Barcelona History Museum). He has taught at the Institute for Educational Sciences of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Barri Besòs secondary school and MACBA. As a researcher, he has worked in the fields of urban history, city planning and education. In 2019 he was appointed as judge and in 2021 as trustee of the European Museum Forum.
Elena Pérez Rubiales works at the projects department of MUHBA (Barcelona History Museum) since 2017. After her BA in art history, she obtained a PhD in Production and Consumption of Culture by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where she taught in the Humanities degree. Her scientific research focuses on the field of museology and its relationship with the museum experience.
When can (and can’t) a national museum think like a city museum?
Benjamin Filene, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, DC, USA
The National Museum of American History (NMAH) is not a city museum, but as we seek to increase visitor engagement and to build diversity among our audiences, we increasingly borrow pages from the city museum playbook. Is this the right approach or, even, appropriate? Are city museum practices scalable to national scope, or should we be turning elsewhere for inspiration?
As Deputy Director of Public History at NMAH, I see these as fruitful tensions, discussion of which will not only help our museum but will bring into relief core elements of city-museum practice. I propose to explore these issues on three fronts: audience development, community collecting, and co-curation.
Audience development: In our 2020 strategic plan, NMAH committed that by 2030 our audience profiles will match the demographics of the U.S. as a whole. To help us strategize how reach that goal, we recently enlisted the Chicago-based consulting firm Slover Linett. Their recommendation sounds like the approach of a city museum: they suggested we start by targeting Latinx millennials from the District of Columbia region and teenagers. Can we do it? Will it work?
Community collecting: We seek to represent diversity of experiences in our permanent collections, and we recognize that doing so requires building trust with historically underserved communities. But how do we build these relationships, usually intensively place-based, as a national museum? Is it appropriate to collect in an intensive way at a local level? If so, which localities? And, in doing so, will we inadvertently be competing with city (and state) museums?
Co-curation: We seek to value multiple perspectives and, increasingly, to de-center traditional curatorial expertise. Co-curation is a strategy that privileges the interpretive perspectives of groups outside the museum. But which groups? Can we sustain long-term relationships with them? And how can we discern if their insights apply beyond their locality? In other words, what does community history look like at a nationwide scale? These issues are magnified at a national institution, but they are inherent in city museum work as well. I anticipate discussion (and examples) that will prompt reflection and new insights among all present.
Keywords: audience development; community collecting: co-curation
Filene is Deputy Director of Public History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, overseeing exhibition, collections, education, digital and research functions. Previously he served as chief curator at the North Carolina Museum of History, director of public history at UNC-Greensboro, and senior exhibition developer at the Minnesota History Center. As a Fulbright Fellow, Filene worked with the Helsinki City Museum and the University of Helsinki. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale.
Curatorial strategies and practices: Institutional articulation and decolonial processes on the road to the 450th anniversary of the City of Córdoba
Patricia Elsa Brignole, Museum of the City of Córdoba, Argentina
The museological plan of the City Museum contemplates a number of actions that are crossed by the reflection and deconstruction of a historical collection, with very marked traditional characteristics, where models were reproduced and demand new procedures through a continuous experimental and collaborative practice.
The museum presents itself as a mediator, with the aim of responding to local culture and its dynamics, a defined territory; which, together with exhibition strategies and adaptation of the service to the visitor, works to provide the possibility of approaching and participating in unique experiences. These are the result of a process of deconstructing collections and a traditional, formal, finished, closed script, which these days invites dialogue to be activated, generating a community with visitors on a daily basis. The new curatorial practices make it easier to use space as a medium; the museum is thus transformed into a large museographic installation. Daily practice is relevant as the basis for the production of content, the museum is a great laboratory that generates new voices, where the museum can be thought continuously. The institution together with the physical space it occupies manifests itself as an unfinished process all the time.
City museums are constantly searching for tools that highlight certain tensions between institutions and actors in management processes and public and private governance. To represent it, I would say that the museums are occupying border areas where these significant exercises are carried out.
Keywords: decolonial processes, mediation experiences, experimental practice, curatorial strategies, border zones
Patricia Elsa Brignole is a museologist, curator, museum management and strategies consultant, public and private spheres. University professor, Cultural Heritage Management career, Provincial University of Córdoba, since 2017. Director of the Museum of the City of Córdoba, MUCI, coordinator of museological projects, Secretary of Culture of the Municipality of Córdoba, Argentina. Master’s Degree in International Relations and Doctorate in Cultural Studies. CEA, National University of Córdoba. Research dedicated to museum theory and practice, and international cultural studies. Member of the Enslaved People Route Project, Córdoba. CAMOC Board member CAMOC LAC regional representative
Negotiating publics in diverse spaces
Moderator: Annemarie de Wildt, Amsterdam Museum, Netherlands
Reconciliation and healing through the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre
Catherine C. Cole, Inuit Heritage Trust, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
May 25, 2023, marked the 30th anniversary of the Nunavut Agreement, the largest land claim settlement in Canadian history. Nunavut became a territory April 1, 1999. The legacy of colonialism and intergenerational trauma is strongly felt in Canada’s North. The Nunavut Agreement identified the “urgent need” to establish heritage facilities. Despite repeated attempts, a territorial heritage facility has yet to be built. The right to such facilities and programs, and the importance of them, has been asserted repeatedly since – at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs (1996), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015), in the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019), and most recently in Canada’s commitment to implement UNDRIP (2021).
Increasingly frustrated with the government’s inability to create a heritage facility, Inuit Organizations established through the land claim decided to take the lead: Inuit Heritage Trust (IHT) with the support of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI), Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KitIA), and Kivalliq Inuit Association (KivIA). I was hired as Director of Planning in 2020. The 55,000 sq ft facility will serve Iqaluit (capital of 8,000), foster development of a territorial heritage network, and coordinate collaborative exhibitions and programs. Because of the immense geography (one-fifth of Canada), the time and expense of bringing Inuit together, and the fact that the Nunavut collections are stored in southern museums, there’s a focus on digitization.
The Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre (NIHC) is conceived of as a centre that focuses on living heritage, the continuity of Inuit culture and language, as well as the preservation and exhibition of cultural belongings. The NIHC will support reconciliation and healing by bridging generations, allowing Inuit to connect with their Elders and ancestors as well as with non-Inuit through objects and stories. The legacy of colonialism – the residential school system, the rupture of families through relocation to communities, the tuberculosis crisis and the 60s’ Scoop – and marginalization of Inuit culture, values and traditions in present-day Nunavut left many Inuit interested in reconnecting with their collective past to find a stronger sense of identity and culture. A truly decolonized museum is governed by those colonized.
Keywords: Nunavut Inuit, decolonization, reconciliation, identity, digitization
Catherine C. Cole is the Director of Planning for the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre in Iqaluit and Principal Consultant, Catherine C. Cole & Associates in Edmonton. A former museum curator and interpreter, she has consulted on heritage issues throughout Canada and internationally for 30 years. She is a member of Parks Canada’s Indigenous Cultural Heritage Advisory Council (ICHAC) and the Culture and Heritage Community Chair for the National Indigenous Knowledge and Language Alliance (NIKLA).
The layered museum: The National Anthropology Museum in Angola
Suzana Sousa, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Installed in a colonial building in downtown Luanda the National Anthropology Museum engages different periods and themes of the national history such as slavery and the late slaves trade of Portugal, Portuguese occupation and colonialism, tropical architecture and the geographic and racial divide of the city of Luanda. However, all these layers disappear of the museum to tell an ethnographic narrative of the recently independent people of Angola through their crafts, music instruments, everyday objects, masks and religious objects.
The tension between the ethnographic gaze of the museum displays and the national political discourse that the museum intended to capture is in no way addressed. Inaugurated to celebrate the first year of independence in 1976, most of its collection belonged to the Dundo museum although it maintained a research practice until the late 1980’s in the field of ethno-history developing a contemporary knowledge production practice.
This paper aims to understand the museum through the traces that are present in the building; the absences in the collection and the museography. How can the gaps be considered as a counter-narrative able to challenge the political choices of the ruling single-party towards nation and national identity? and also the place of the museum in the nation-building process taking place after independence.
Keywords: Anthropology museum; Angola; Colonial museums; Africa museums;
Suzana Sousa, independent curator, researcher and writer. PhD student at the History Department of UWC and fellow at the Centre for Humanities Research. Recipient of the 2022 Ivan Karp Research Awards, my research focus is the nation-building process in Angola and the visual arts after independence. During 2022 I was the research assistant to the Remaking Societies Remaking Persons Forum and part of the Action for Restitution for Africa Project both from the History Department. Recently I co-curated the exhibition ‘The Power of My Hands’ at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, part of the Saison Africa 2020. This exhibition is currently on show in Luanda at the National Natural History Museum.
History in its place: Community, collections and public space in a city museum
Luiz Henrique Assis Garcia, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
The Museu Histórico Abilio Barreto (MHAB), History Museum from Belo Horizonte (capital city of Minas Gerais state, Brazil), has been developing since 2003 a collecting policy that promotes the expansion of the range of artifacts beyond the limits of its traditional collections. The institution’s trajectory had then led to adopt contemporary theoretical and methodological perspectives of History as a field of knowledge, which prompted his staff to rethink concepts on History Museums that have cities as their field of research and intervention. The balance of this debate, in rough lines, was the finding that there is no incompatibility between the identities of “history” and “city” museum, once it is considered that the urban space, to be built and disputed, is traversed by multiple temporalities, modes of appropriation and diverse social uses, often conflicting ones. From this point of view, it has become critical to encompass the diversity of documents and representations socially engendered over the city and its history, as well as democratizing the definition of artifacts to be acquired, considering the various social actors who participate in their production and interpretation. As research sector coordinator (and sometimes curator) between 2003-2009 I had the opportunity to be the forefront to various initiatives promoted for this purpose, which also led to intuitively incorporate some advances in museum studies.
This paper aims to bring to light further thoughts on this matter. It is organized in two sections, the first dedicated to present a panorama of the institution’s initiatives related to the topic, such as the indoors exhibit “From other lands, from other seas” (2003-2005), on foreign immigration, or outdoors projects implemented between 2006-2009 called “museum interventions” that conjugated research on selected public places such as squares or urban parks with strong local communities focus that emerged as exhibits at that very places. The second proposes an analysis of such projects in the light of new discussions and experiences that lean mainly on participatory activities, such as community co-curation applied to exhibits and collecting policies. On the concluding remarks I shall explore further possibilities on participatory methodologies applied to city museums’ initiatives.
Keywords: city museums, urban history, public space, communities, participatory initiatives
Historian and PhD (2007) in History by PPGHIS-UFMG. Coordinated for 8 years the Research Sector of the Abílio Barreto Historical Museum (MG/BR). Professor of Museology/Museum studies undergraduate course, and of Information Science Post-Grad course at ECI/UFMG. Coordinate a research group on Cultural Heritage. Member of CAMOC/ICOM. Works published on the history of Brazilian popular music, heritage and memory, cultural exchanges, territories, museums and cities.
When research and public opinion clash: Were first settlers of Espoo Black?
Tomi Heikkilä and Johanna Vähäpesola, KAMU Espoo City Museum, Finland
This paper presents the case of an exhibition combining prehistory and genetic research at the KAMU Espoo City Museum in Finland. The paper showcases our learning points in a project, which crossed the line for some audiences. The most recent research and exhibition suggested that the first settlers of Southern Finland and Espoo had most probably dark skin and blue eyes, which was depicted in the exhibition by large artistic illustrations. Recent research also suggest that all living people share the same set of ancestors, even in the surprisingly recent past making the exhibition an opportunity for the museum to promote equality and a sense of belonging.
Prehistory is recurring exhibition theme at KAMU, but for many visitors’ distant pasts are not connected to their everyday life. In order to be relevant to present day’s audiences, the starting point of the exhibition was the genetic ancestry of today’s people. The exhibition took part in the current discussions on what makes a “real” Finn or “real” inhabitant of Espoo and overall, the feedback from the exhibition visitors was positive. We reached exceptional visitor numbers and people felt that they got new information.The illustrations were powerful and the visual effect was praised.
However, we also got very different feedback, which came mostly via emails or was written on internet forums. The discussions were nationalistic and racist, with several posts having been moderated crossing the borders of freedom of speech. Some comments were directed at museum staff, which were thought to be working on their own agenda instead of disseminating scientific research.
The new perspectives brought the museum visitors and good reviews, but we failed in reaching out to new audiences or changing the way of thinking for some. An attempt to strengthen the museum’s active role could have had more impact and the museum did not have a strategy on reacting to the racist arguments. However, the reactions mean that our work matters, and we have an important role in the present day. Our museum is not only a place to discover the past but also a place to understand the present.
Keywords: museum practice, exhibitions, diversity, racism
Tomi Heikkilä is Senior Curator at KAMU Espoo City Museum in Finland. He has 20 years of experience in the museum field and exhibitions. In the past few years, he worked on an exhibition project that combined prehistory and genetics. This is something he wants to do at the history museum: to tell at the same time about the past and the present. This makes history museums significant for everyone and enables talking about the present day and handle today’s issues.
Johanna Vähäpesola works as Senior Advisor at KAMU Espoo City Museum. She has MA diploma in history and has been working in the museum sector for 15 years. Her special interests include public engagement and participation, museum strategy and the role of museums in society. She is the secretary of ICOM Finland since 2020 as well as secretary of ICOM CAMOC since 2022.
Wednesday, 18 October, 11-12:30 pm – Morning panel sessions
Communities, memories and heritage in changing museum practice
Ronay Menschel Hall (Online access)
Moderator: Lilly Tuttle, Museum of the City of New York, NY, USA
Future of the Nairobi Railway Museum: Education and decolonization in the digital age
Flora Nguye Mutere, Technical University of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
By examining Nairobi Railway Museum (NRM) collections, this paper seeks to demonstrate how the archive engenders identity and belonging to urban spaces. NRM display in its current format alienates, decontextualizes and displaces audiences. However, the paper argues that it presents an opportunity for the production of suppressed community memories to constitute an epistemic restoration of socio-cultural knowledge and heritage. Presenting African ways of looking at the world that responded to gendered, ethnic and racialized dispossession of urban landscapes, the paper examines shifting cultural hegemonic dynamics that have historically subordinated participant agency in a post colonial African urban project. Digital reenactments of community memories from 1950 to 1970 African urban working class culture explore social, economic and political themes of urban settlement, within the liminal period positioning this as an explicit and disruptive practice of epistemic decolonial thinking and doing. African feminist philosophical frameworks which include seminal diasporan feminist lens and critique, utilize immersive interactive platforms that tell the narratives of the everyday lives of the working class in the city of Nairobi. The urban museum then emerges as an arena of resistance, creativity and thought that will ground theories whose units of analysis engage with dimensions of power, knowledge and being within postcolonial civic cultural engagement in epistemic spaces. This is in order to revisit past social and geopolitical events at sites of African memory and emphasize the study of the world from a Kenyan perspective.
Keywords: Afro feminism(s), Digital Heritage Design, Urban Museum
A multimedia designer using a practice based research project to instill, research and story- telling around the forging of identity and belonging in urban spaces. Through an aesthetic of African memory to provide reflection and closure for urban inhabitants addressing notions of how, why, and who has the right to belong to the urban spaces. These align with her social contract whose mission is to center design, education practice within sites of memory.
Change forced by war: Ramifications and roles of city museums
Saeed Hussein Shukri, Saryan Museum, Hargeisa, Somaliland
Change is inevitable, in its intrinsic nature it allows communities to adapt and flourish. Tangible and inclusive change accords communities the opportunity to critique the different facets of the change. Change catalysed by war is fast paced, a blur, often distorting the norms and core tapestry of communities – this change only seeks the survival of a community and not its success. The relationship between changing communities and war is cyclical. War subjected Somaliland and its capital city Hargeisa to a debilitating brain drain as the educated, intellectuals and the wealthy fled. Traditionally, these groups are the thought leaders and the chaperones of their communities.
Post war communities need answers, Why? and How? they should proceed. In the absence of thought leaders, communities settle for the simplest answer, because simplicity is reassuring. The simplest answer is internalised self-blame rather than an objective critique. This has been devastating, communities sought to shed off their Somali culture in the pursuit of a new identity, whilst entrenching the community deeper into divisive clan identities leading to intolerant mono- clan neighbourhoods and communities in Hargeisa. Sufism, the mystical form of Islam, was practised for centuries and played a critical role in the culture, genealogy and social fabric of Somaliland communities is now frowned upon and is seen as witchcraft, further exacerbating the problem of religious intolerance. Somali names are now seen to be backward and primitive; new-borns now proudly bear Arabic names.
Saryan Museum is a witness of this communal change. Its approach has been to identify the micro changes in the community, identifying their causalities and extrapolating the effect of these changes. Saryan Museum proactively acts to justifiably inform and critique the changes occurring, It has taken up the role to chaperone the community which it serves. It has provided an apolitical platform for intellectuals to propagate their message. It has also sought to reinvigorate Somali culture and to inculcate a sense of identity and pride. Despite the challenges, City Museums must be proactive in helping their communities transition, bridge factious antagonisms and build an environment that encourages the pursuit of shared communal progress.
Keywords: Communities, War, Inclusivity, Tolerance, Brain-drain
I am Somaliland citizen born and grew up in HARGEISA in Northern SOMALIA , A breakaway region now proclaimed an independent country yet received no international l recognition. I completed my primary and high schools education in Somalia and studied higher education at NYSU at Fredonia University college and graduated in 1979. i was an employee for various UN agencies. UNHCR, UNDP , UN missions in Sudan and South Sudan in 2016 where I eventually got retired. From 2017 I established SARYAN Museum and invested good portion of retirement benefits , Saryan museum gives emphasis on topic like war peace archives and photographs, lectured for peace building and education. Above all it collects scattered artifacts displaced during civil war and valuable cultural heritage.
Migration heritage, contemporary art and city archives: Representations, memories and identities
Andréa Delaplace, Université Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne (HICSA), France
Archives are generally viewed as ordered collections of historical documents that record information about people, objects, places and events. They are the main tools used by historians and other researchers to analyze society. Nevertheless, this definition of the archive obscures a crucial element: the archive is primarily concerned with representations, memories and identities.
Museum’s collections are invested by political categories and practices – be they ideological constructions, questions of visibility and representation, or the various ways in which power is exerted, contested or actualized in cultural practices. How recognizing memories can empower groups and minorities that have been subjugated or suppressed like for example in the case of migrant communities? Another important question is how contemporary artists use and disrupts the function of the archive as a foundation for their creative process, in doing so how do they highlight the internal dynamics and politics that are in creating/producing archives?
The aim of this presentation is to highlight the different processes of displaying migration and archiving of “memories” of different immigrant communities as well as how the contemporary artworks presented in museums interact and dialogue with it.
Keywords: Migration, City Museums, Contemporary Art, Archives
Andrea Delaplace presented her Master thesis on the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration at EHESS – Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales – (Mention Ethnology and Social Anthropology) and has a PhD in Museum studies and heritage, ED 441 History of Art, Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, under the direction of Dominique Poulot. She is also a Board member of ICOM-CAMOC.
Creating heritage towards a socially just city
Nicole van Dijk, Stichting Wijkcollectie (District Heritage Foundation), Rotterdam, Netherlands
In this interactive presentation I will discuss the way in which ‘Stichting Wijkcollectie’ (District Heritage collection) applies the ideas of community empowerment influenced by Hannah Arendt and others in the way in which heritage is created and can be used in impactful ways. An effective and useful method, especially for city museums. I will discuss how Stichting Wijkcollectie (District Heritage Collection) derived an active form of heritage making from Hannah Arendts’ work ‘Vita Activa’ (The active life). In Arendts’ view, the actions between people and the reactions to those actions are what gives meaning to life. This forms the stories about life in the city that are always evolving.
Stories & heritage: In recent years I have come to understand the stories we collect more and more as the contemporary intangible heritage about exchange and interaction between people. The initiatives we follow in both ‘Echt Rotterdams Erfgoed’ (Authentic Rotterdam Heritage) and the ‘Wijkcollectie’ are drawn from stories about how people act in the city. Residents who want something different, turn their ideas into actions and start something new together with others towards better futures. Meaningful actions between people that, if you unravel them, show how the city is now and the direction in which communities are moving. In my opinion, this is the making of significant contemporary heritage of the city.
On the basis of practical examples, I want to illustrate why these stories are forms of new heritage and what activities the ‘Wijkcollectie’ organizes together with the communities in order to support change and the socially just city. Not only do the stories draw attention to things that can be done differently, they create social action and urgency to tackle them and initiate change. These changes concern, for example, litter in the city, the absence of meeting places and low literacy. With pop-up exhibitions, story encounters, city clean-up conferences and knitting competitions, we present the stories as heritage and support the change initiated by residents. The district heritage is therefore active and orientated to change the world of tomorrow.
Keywords: empowerment, social just, contemporary heritage, intangible
Nicole van Dijk is director of the ‘Wijkcollectie’ Foundation. After her studies, she supported changes in society in various ways with stories. Starting as an anthropological researcher, through a career as an independent designer to curator in a city museum, she now leads a foundation that she set up to safeguard the stories of Rotterdammers. To preserve this as contemporary heritage of the city and to make the voices of residents sound even more powerful.
Environmental transformations in changing cities
Moderator: Morien Rees, Varanger Museum, Norway
Transformations – tales of trash – activism and ethical responsibility at Roskilde Museum
Dorthe Godsk Larsen, Roskilde Museum/ROMU, Denmark
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. This is also true for Roskilde Museum, and with the exhibition project Transformations – tales of trash, we want to promote reuse and recycling, ethical responsibility and commitment to the life and development of the city. At a national level, the museum wants to support the development of a green waste sector with the aim of becoming climate neutral in 2030.
Denmark considers itself one of the world’s most sustainable countries. Unfortunately, this is a false national self-image. Being a widespread throw-away society, Denmark generates large amounts of waste. With Transformations Roskilde Museum wishes to engage in a serious, contemporary issue concerning waste by presenting both current and historical tales of trash from the city of Roskilde.
In the exhibition’s ‘wunderkammer’, visitors encounter 400 jars with waste exhibited side by side with 10 museum objects, all of which present tales of trash. Both waste jars and objects connect the present with the past – and the past with the present – from ancient times to today. They range from current stories about the cigarette sewer grate and the organic waste bag to the ancient kitchen midden; from medieval latrines to the first toilet paper; from the layers of waste under the city and the garbage man’s wooden rattle to reuse and recycling during World War II.
Roskilde Museum applies an activistic practice by using history along with the museum’s position in the city to contribute to the discussion of current challenges calling for change and action. The museum interacts with the city by participating in waste collections, collaborating with thrift stores, becoming involved in the town’s new waste sorting system and presenting the sustainability efforts of the town’s annual music festival – Roskilde Festival.
At the same time, the exhibition project is transforming the institution itself by pushing themuseum to take on new roles and responsibilities in the city. This requires that the museum as an institution deal with its own consumption and waste management. Roskilde Museum is now actively involved in the establishment of the Green Academy of Museums – a national project that aims to create a greener museum landscape in Denmark.
Keywords: museum activism, ethical responsibility, use of history, transformation, citizen engagement
Dorthe Godsk Larsen is curator at Roskilde Museum, Denmark, since 2018. She holds a MA in History of Ideas and Aesthetics and Culture from the University of Aarhus. As museum professional, she has worked at both art and history museums, and she has carried out a number of projects on exhibitions and learning programs with a cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary focus.
It socks: What does a single sock add up to in the big carbon footprint?
Mette Stauersbøl Mogensen, Museum Odense, Møntergården, Denmark
During the summer of 2023, Odense’s city museum, Møntergården, will be the setting for the exhibition concept “It Socks” – a historical commentary and a contemporary perspective on the city’s “black” transition and how we ourselves can help make a difference. It Socks consists of a mix of art installations, exhibition elements and events that together make up “It Socks”. The concept is built up of two parts, an exhibition part based on the research project “The Black Transition in Urban Life”, and a public communication part, which is created in collaboration with the citizens of Odense.
Together with the citizens of Odense, we create parts of the presentation. Citizens tell the stories of their own socks – from the ones their grandmothers knitted to the ones that gave them victory against their arch-enemies in football. In another location, we are building a large art installation of socks of all the single socks and holey socks that no longer have a meaning in life with the help of Odense’s inhabitants.
The project conveys the black transition in the history of clothing, using the sock as an example. We examine how socks have been produced over time, what their carbon footprint has been, what materials were used and how they were used and, not least, recycled. We look at the sock’s cultural history, fashion trends, traditions and how it has been part of people’s daily lives from the late 19th century to the present day. And most importantly, It Socks tries to focus on our own footprint and how we can make a difference in the green transition.
The concept is based on the research project “The Black Transition in Urban Life”, in which researchers from our own museum and other cultural institutions and universities have examined the black transition through a cultural-historical lens. The project is based on urban people and how the inhabitants of cities have changed their consumption habits since the end of the 19th century to the present day.
Keywords: Black Transition, community co-curation, climate change
Mette Stauersbøl Mogensen has a master’s degree. in history. Since 2023, she has been Head of Development for Odense’s city museum Møntergården. Previously, she was in charge of the award-winning children’s program in Hans Christian Andersen’s House in Denmark. Andersen’s House in Denmark. Møntergården is facing an exciting development process, where the museum will be transformed into a contemporary and relevant city museum that breaks the boundaries of what a city museum can and should be.
Cohousing and urban agriculture: The challenges regarding feeding and housing in an historical and contemporary context
Christine De Weerdt, STAM Ghent City Museum, Belgium
Food and a roof over your head, they are two basic requirements that everyone needs. As the world population keeps increasing and the climate changing, feeding and housing people are becoming a major theme in more and more places on earth. Cities are particularly affected, and the growth of their populations causes considerable challenges.
STAM is the city museum of Ghent. Ghent is a large city by Belgian standards and is centrally located in Flanders, a region that is rapidly becoming the second most densely built region in Europe (after Malta). It only intensifies the challenges regarding nutrition and housing. Where and how we live is a hot topic locally, but at the same time a universal issue.
In recent years, STAM has contributed to the discussion regarding collective housing with two guest exhibitions, ‘At Home – Building and Living in Communities’ of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (Frankfurt) and the local sequel ‘Housing Apart Together’. It is a series that we will continue with a yet-to-be-implemented project on cooperative housing.
Urban agriculture and short chain food supply are other actual topics of debate. How does one ensure that a city can supply its needs, and where does that food come from? The city of Ghent owns a large territory consisting of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, mainly outside the current city borders in the wide region around Ghent. This is a legacy from the Middle Ages but currently also the subject of a heated debate.
Do these lands offer an opportunity for more local and sustainable agricultural and nature development or are they an asset to be sold with the profits used to clear the deficit of social housing? We are currently preparing a project consisting of an exhibition that gives historical context to this theme and a varied programme of activities with time for discussion and debate.
Short-chain agriculture and housing are two different topics that each belong in a city museum. City museums can play a role, providing historical context and drawing parallels with other cities while offering a space for reflection and debate.
Keywords: density, sharing, cohousing, food, urban agriculture
Christine De Weerdt studied art history at the University of Leuven and international relations at the IEHEI, Université de Nice. She gained extensive experience in cultural management and heritage projects and is since 2009 general director of STAM – Ghent City Museum.
Co-curation and communities in urban spaces
Moderator: Chun-ni Jenny Chiu, Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan
It turned out differently: Learning to be more flexible in community engagement projects
Joana Sousa Monteiro & Sofia Bicho, Museum of Lisbon, Portugal
“Stories in the City” is an experimental co-creation project by Santa Casa da Misericórdia (House of the Holy Mercy), a historical national charity for social integration, and the Museum of Lisbon. It aims at youngsters aged between 16 to 25 running under a social protection programme by Santa Casa.
The integration programme recipients are recent immigrants and refugees who often don’t speak our language and come from very diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. It also includes native Portuguese people who had been institutionalized. The programme is meant to assist over 100 young people in studying, finding a job and gaining autonomy. Nonetheless, it did not have cultural components or elements connected to the city’s identity values, hence the Museum of Lisbon reached Santa Casa to become a partner and co-develop a new layer by increasing the participants’ knowledge, empathy, and engagement with the place where they live.
The project was carefully designed in 2021 together with the charity’s programme coordinator and with some of the youngsters as well. Whereas the methodology was based on principles of community engagement programmes, subjective cartography and previous experience in inclusive projects, the project turned out not to fit the particular characteristics of this audience. The pilot phase was delayed and the results failed to meet our expectations, thus the museum team decided to stop and rethink the whole model.
This presentation is focused on how the surprisingly big difference between a co-curated plan and reality changed the perspectives of those involved. The partners have been learning more from the process itself, than from the initial findings. Besides encouraging some of the participants to create their views of the contemporary city, the museum team is learning to be more flexible and open and is giving them the opportunity to work in and for the museum in ways that better serve their own purposes and needs.
Keywords: Contemporary migration, social justice, community engagement, experimental approaches
Joana Sousa Monteiro is director of the Museum of Lisbon / EGEAC since 2015. She was a museum adviser to the Lisbon Councillor for Culture (2010-2014). She was assistant coordinator of the Portuguese Museums Network at the National Institute of Museums (2000-2010). She holds a degree in Art History, an MA in Museology, and an MA in Arts Management. She has been a board member of ICOM Portugal (2014-2016) and Chair of ICOM – CAMOC (2016-2022).
Sofia Bicho has been assistant director of the Museum of Lisbon / EGEAC since 2019. She oversees management, events and exhibition production, and collaborates in the development of strategic community projects. She holds a degree in Art History and an MA in Urban Anthropology. She previously worked in the production of public space events for EGEAC (the municipal company for culture in Lisbon) (2000-2003 and 2016-2017). She was assistant director of the Fado Museum (2003 -2016 and 2018).
A hitchhiker’s guide to reaching out
Femke Haijtema, Museum Gouda, Netherlands
Next year, Museum Gouda celebrates its 150th birthday. It was founded in a participatory project avant la lettre, with the city of Gouda advertising: “Those in possession of artworks and antiquities of all sorts, concerning Gouda or its earlier or later inhabitants, are invited to cooperate and, before the first of July 1872, notify the Secretary of their willingness to do so and of that which is in their possession.” Our museum springs from this collection, a wonderfully democratic story that would make Nina Simon proud.
However, walking around our museum today, you find the same objects that took centre stage in that first exhibition still gracing its walls. One could be fooled into thinking that the city has not changed much since 1874. But Gouda transformed from a small town within medieval boundaries to a bustling city of 75.000 with countless nationalities. From the 1960s, Gouda companies actively looked to North Africa for employees, and as a result today 10% of my fellow residents are of Moroccan descent, making Gouda the most Moroccan city of the Netherlands. Yet in no way, shape or form are their stories represented in Museum Gouda. If we don’t change fast, despite its participatory beginnings, the museum will become increasingly irrelevant for the changing city it once represented.
How to reach out to this close-knit Moroccan-Dutch community as a small city museum who can’t afford an outreach department, city curator or even a project manager? I have recently embarked on this journey towards a more inclusive programme and collection for Museum Gouda, constantly discovering surprising do’s and don’ts I would love to share (e.g. museums are NOT important in people’s lives, recruitment is NOT the best place to start, the artists’ perspective is NOT always relevant, you DO have to stick to what you know and it DOES help if you’re a sociologist instead of an (art)historian).
Keywords: outreach, community collecting, religious diversity, heritage, research
Dutch ICOM board member Femke Haijtema was recently appointed director of Museum Gouda, a Dutch Bible belt city most widely known for a cheese that was never actually made there. Never afraid of a little debunking to challenge traditions and cliches, Femke is a firm believer in change and diversity. With her background as a sociologist and a heart for history, she loves creating imaginative stories that bring art and heritage to a wide audience.
Says who?: Sharing space for city-making
Gijs Schunselaar, Museum Van Loon, Amsterdam, Netherlands
In April 2023, Museum Van Loon opened the exhibition Says who?, on the effects of colonial history on the urban condition, co-created through participation by Amsterdam citizens/communities. Obscuring the museum’s appearance by an intrusive architectural design, Says who? creates space for co-ownership of interpreting and explaining urban society. In form, process and content. A presentation on the process 2019-2023, lessons learnt and the road ahead; on shifting a museum mindset and implementing structural change; on sharing a historic space.
Museum Van Loon is a historic ‘city palace’ located on Amsterdam’s canals. The museum complex – the former Van Loon family mansion – showcases the way of living of a wealthy Amsterdam family since the 17th century. Materially, the collection isa one-sided display of city history. The museum’s policy is centered around polyphonic programming, participation and co-creation with Amsterdam communities. Dealing with the city’s colonial past – very present in the Van Loon family history – implies facing existential shifts in Amsterdam’s diverse society with a stronger than ever call for equal citizenship. Museum Van Loon converted from a reflection on the history of few into a city house that tells the stories of many.
In 2019 the museum presented ‘Along Surinamese canals’, on the West India Company connection between the Van Loon family and the plantation system in Suriname; one of the country’s first exhibitions on the history of slavery and urban society that grew out of it. The content was derived from personal stories and participatory input. Leading up to Says who?, the museum organized conversations on colonial history and today’s urban society with community partners Imagine IC and SpeakUpWorld. Participants were citizens who feel a (family) connection with former Dutch colonies. Themes discussed were, e.g., feelings of (dis)belonging in the public domain, representation, the role of museums in city-making. The exhibition’s narrators surfaced from the group and took up a curatorial role, the museum delegated control and facilitated. The resulting exhibition Says who? is a new vantage point for presenting the urban environment and to imagine beyond it.
Keywords: Decolonization, co-curation, representation, communities, space-creation
Gijs Schunselaar – art historian and economist – is Director of Museum Van Loon since 2018. Drawing upon his experiences in theatre and literature, he prioritized the museum’s shifting course towards polyphonic programming. Schunselaar has been a permanent memberat the Amsterdam Arts Council since 2018, advising Amsterdam City Government on cultural policy. One of hisvoluntary positions is President of the AMVJ Fund for accessible cultural participation of children/youth in Amsterdam, acting city-wide.
Co-location, co-curation and co-operation: Singapore’s Community Galleries in Action
Alvin Tan, National Heritage Board, Singapore
To address the issues related to the escalating costs of building and operating new museums and acquiring a collection for these museums, the National Heritage Board (NHB) of Singapore experimented with seeding community galleries within existing civic and urban spaces in partnership with stakeholders. This presentation will focus on Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery and Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, and explain how they exemplify NHB’s co-location, co-curation and co-operation approach. In addition, the presentation will provide a brief overview of the content and programmes offered by both heritage galleries, and show how they function as cultural anchors for their respective precincts. Finally, it will also outline the key performance indicators for the two heritage galleries; the learning points from operating these experimental spaces; as well as NHB’s future plans for its network of community galleries.
Keywords: Community, Co-curation, Collection, Placemaking, Intangible
Mr Alvin Tan is Deputy Chief Executive (Policy & Community) at NHB and he oversees strategies, operations and projects pertaining to heritage impact assessment and mitigation, National Monuments and heritage sites, the National Collection, collections care and management, community outreach and education, volunteer engagement, three heritage institutions, the Museum Roundtable, heritage grants, language campaigns as well as international relations. Mr Tan also oversaw the development of Singapore’s first masterplan for the museum and heritage sector.
Wednesday, 18 October – 1:00-2:00 & 3:00-4:00 PM – Gallery of ideas
Food for thought
Rome’s evolving identities: Blurring lines at the Casalino and Testaccio open-air museums
Yvonne A. Mazurek, Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome, Italy
Once considered the irrefutable caput mundi, how does Rome recount itself today? This talk explores how two of the city’s open-air museums illustrate significant trends and challenges facing many district-wide projects in Italy. On the one hand, the Museo Diffuso Rione Testaccio is a project launched by the national Ministry of Culture to enhance the archeological heritage of a neighborhood which served as an Imperial Roman port and landfill and, in the 19th century, became the city’s meat-packing district. On the other, the Ecomuseo Casilino “Ad duo lauros” stems from volunteer-based initiatives seeking to enhance the archeological heritage of the city’s outskirts in a neighborhood that is increasingly associated with its Asian immigrants and street art.
By comparing and contrasting these ‘high-brow’ and ‘low-brow’ examples, one of the most important aspects to emerge is the unparalleled difficulties faced by Italian institutions to safeguard a densely-concentrated and unparalleled quantity of tangible heritage. Under national heritage law, all archeological sites and artefacts are deemed public property. Access to these sites and their conservation fall under municipal, regional, or national jurisdiction. Yet citizen-run associations, like that of the Casilino Ecomuseum, have stepped in to offer innovative approaches, itineraries, and communication strategies to supplement the conservation-based activities of public officials. These experiences have successfully integrated canonical narratives about the ‘golden age’ of Rome with more complex themes like the city’s increasingly multiethnic population and ephemeral art forms.
This talk also reflects on ways in which grass-roots initiatives can inform institutional projects with innovative content and style. Testaccio has much to gain by blurring the lines between the academic and the popular and by embracing characteristics of a neighborhood which has outgrown the industrial purposes for which it was designed 150 years ago. As the Open-Air Museum of Testaccio embarks on a new phase of its development, this appeal encourages its leaders to yield space to 20th and 21st century history, to a broader spectrum of material culture and to themes impacting daily life in Rome today.
Keywords: 21st century Rome, urban archeology, associations, Ecomuseo Casilino, Museo Diffuso Rione Testaccio
Yvonne A. Mazurek was trained in Art History in New York and Chicago before moving to central Italy where she taught art history survey courses for fifteen years. Since then, she has worked as a free-lance translator, editor and archivist and has earned a PhD dedicated to conservation and museum strategies for ‘minor’ urban heritage. She is currently co-editor of the CAMOC Review and Director of the Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigner’s in Rome.
The innovation of the Museum Public Cultural Service: The example of Datong Museum*
Jia Xia, Datong Museum, Shanxi, China
Museum is an important service organization for social education and cultural communication.It is also the cultural symbol of the city.The traditional museum management model has been unable to meet the development needs of modern innovative museums, and we need to continuously explore ways to deal with this challenge.
Datong Museum is implementing the “General branch system”. Besides the main one, the other nine branches have opened to the public, including Liang Sicheng Memorial Hall, Pingcheng Memorial Hall, Mingtang Site Museum, Kuixing Culture Museum, Northern Dynasties Art Museum, Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties Ethnic Integration Museum, Datong Revolutionary emorial Hall, Ancient Bronze Art Museum,Weibei Calligrapher Zhang Aitang’s House and Mem rial Hall.We would like to supplement the “untold” historical stories and present the most complete 2300-year history of Datong.Collections are the foundation of the museum’s existence and development.We have been constantly improving the collection management institution,and carrying out the label management on relics based on Intelligent Warehouse Management System.Datong museum has completed the 3D data information collection to improve the digital level of collections.
The curator system has been actively implemented. Our original exhibitions such as “Course of Integration—Exhibition on Migration and Development of Tuoba Xianbei in the Northern Wei Dynasty,” “Bright Bronze Wares —Special Exhibition of Bronze Wares Excavated in Liyu, Hunyuan and Referred in The Book of Songs,” “Red Memory—Cultural Relics Exhibition of Datong Modern Revolutionary History,” “Traces of the Western Capital—Exhibition on Cultural Relics of the Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties in Datong,” “Copper Shining Datong—Display of Ancient Copper Manufacturing Art”、“Traces of Datong,” “Encounter —A Special Creative Show”.
On July 22, 2022, the exemplary groups and individuals awards conference of national cultural relics system was held in Beijing. Datong museum was awarded the honorary title of “the exemplary group of National Cultural Relics System ,” which is the highest honor of the national cultural relics system.
Keywords: Museum Innovation, Museum Public Cultural Service
Jia Xia (1988)has Master’s degree in History and works as a collection manager at Datong Museum, China.As an ICOM member,she has attended numbers of ICOM conferences,such as ICOM-ICR 2021、ICOM Prague 2022.She also participated in The ICOM-ITC April 2019 Training Workshop which was organized at the Palace Museum in Beijing from April 9 to 18. On October 26, 2022, she participated in the International Association for Printing Woodblock International Symposium on Engraving Printing.She has also published articles on ICOMAM MAGAZINE, MUMAC, and Society Study.
Open the museum, open the city: Rethinking and reconnecting the urban spaces of Daxi
Hsin-lin Wen, Daxi Wood Art Ecomuseum, Taoyuan, Taiwan
“The city is a museum” is not a new concept, the sentence expresses the diversity and richness of a city. From residents to shops, from roads to blocks, everywhere can be a showcase to tell how this city has become. But a city is not inherently a museum. If the histories and stories of a city have not been revealed and told, the context has not been preserved and displayed, and the museum value of a city has not been recognized by people, it will only “have the potential to be a museum”.
However, the establishment of a city museum has the potential to truly make a city a museum. Daxi Wood Art Ecomuseum is a city museum located in Daxi District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan, with its core of care is how to preserve the culture of Daxi and show its charm. Since the opening of the museum, the museum has tried to operate from three aspects related to space: first is to open the museum building and outdoor space, has restored more than 20 historical buildings and opened up these spaces that carry urban memory through renovation and reuse as museum spaces. The second aspect is to open up various corners in the city, and through cooperation with residents, the people and stories of the city can be seen in the context of life. The third aspect is to open the connection between the space managed by the museum and the urban space. Through the construction of trails in the physical aspect, and in the non-physical aspect by designing the guide route and planning of experience activities, Daxi becomes a museum that can be experienced and perceived.
Keywords: Daxi Wood Art Ecomuseum, Reuse, Historic Building, Coner House, Open Factory
Hsin-lin Wen is the Section Chief of the Educational Promotion Section of Daxi Woodart Ecomuseum in Taiwan. Her main interests focus on city museums and cultural heritage preservation. She developed several projects to collaborate with local communities in the Daxi District, Taoyuan County, exploring the possibility of how museum skills can help local people to promote the inheritance of folk culture and local knowledge, and to make the museum as a platform of social communication.
Museums and Yangzhou rural revitalization
Xingli Wang, Yangzhou Museum, Jiangsu, China
The China State Council to the principle a package of policies of charting the roadmap for rural vitalization in 2018. It aimed at promoting and integrated development of the primary. Secondary, and tertiary industries in rural areas, help farmers to increase income, achieve prosperity in rural areas.
Yangzhou’s prosperity was, to a very large degree, a result of the nation’s salt trade policy and the city’s superior geographical location (at the junction of the Yangtze and the Grand Canal) in ancient times. However, as modern industries emerged and modern means of transport developed, Yangzhou went into decline. Tertiary industry became an effective solution to the city’s economic problem, given its profound history and culture and abundant tourism resources. But there was another problem: the unbalanced distribution. While virtually all of these cultural and tourism resources were located in the old town(the city center until up to now), there were few in the other part of the city, especially in rurals.
In this article we pay particular attention to museums participation in Yangzhou rural revitalization by optimize museums functions to provide more services to the countryside, not only cultural, rural tourism, to the economic development. 1) building some museums in rural, many in smalltown with distinctive features and industries that fit into those rural, like Hang Ji, a smalltown in east-south part of Guang-ling District (a district of Yangzhou city), build a Toothbrush Museum, due to Hang Ji is the largest oral care products and personal care products, especially hotel article sets production center in the world, produced 7.5 billion toothbrushes every year and sold to more than 100 countries and regions around the world. Some smalltown are used their public showroom as museum to show their history or special industries; 2) talents cultivation in rural, the government launch rural multi-level vocation skills recognition, many rural craftspeople own the title of Rural Revitalization Craftspeople, which is the title of a senior professional post, those skills including jade carving, woodblock engraving and printing, lacquerware, potted Landscape, embroidery, Hui-yang cuisine cooking, hair dressing, pedicure, both them are Yangzhou intangible cultural heritage. Some museum staffs also own the title. Some museums invite craftspeople those own the title to work in museums or into rural to teach visitor or rural dweller skills, such as how to make lotus lanterns, colored wrist ropes, duck egg bags and perfume pouches, rice paper flower, both them are intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of Yangzhou city, to help rural craftsmen or craftswomen to increasing their incomes, or make proactive efforts to help craftspeople look for and train their next generation of preservers who will carry on their skills; 3) museums organizes lectures and some activity in Yangzhou’s townships and community. For instance, one lecture held in Chengbei Township discussed the history of Yangzhou’s traditional crafts, at which the lecturer encouraged the township to develop a historic street of traditional Yangzhou crafts. At another lecture in Hang Ji Township, the speaker shared his forty years’ experience of authenticating ancient books, which offered valuable inspirations for the township’s block printing industry (another main industry of the town); 4) cooperation with some rural companies, promotion-sales their productions in museum or running some activities which launched by museums, help more non-local person known local specialty of Yangzhou’s rural.
Keywords: Museums, rural revitalization, Yangzhou
Xingli Wang, she is a Ph.D. candidate of An-hui Normal University. An assistant researcher of Relics and Art Preservation Department，Yangzhou Museum, Jiangsu, China. And ICOM-CAMOC Membership.
The power of the curator PUBLIC!: Driving a paradigm shift towards a more community-led programme at the Lëtzebuerg City Museum
Anne Hoffmann and Kyra Thielen, Les 2 Musées de la Ville de Luxembourg / Lëtzebuerg City Museum, Luxembourg
In today’s fast-changing society, scarred by the pandemic and profoundly impacted by the ongoing social, environmental, and political turmoil, museums must undergo significant transformation to remain relevant.
As a city history museum, we see the evolution of our social fabric and recognise the importance of continuously re-evaluating our alignment with the concerns and interests of our audiences, especially the citizens of Luxembourg City. Today, we are committed to moving beyond the traditional “Ivory Tower” model of the museum tailored to a mostly intellectual “elite” and engaging with our visitors on a more personal level to foster a sense of shared responsibility and ownership of our cultural heritage.
We are reimagining our role in society and prioritising the creation of spaces, programmes, and exhibitions that build meaningful experiences with our public. We aspire to elevate our visitors from mere consumers to creators. We believe actively engaging them in the creation and decision-making process is essential to reshape the museum’s identity and better serve and empower our communities.
We would like to showcase two recent projects that illustrate this participatory approach. Our recurring “Urban History Festival” is a prime example of community co-curation in action, where we work hand in hand with the residents and diverse communities of Luxembourg City to push the physical boundaries of our institution further. Our current temporary exhibition, “Best of Posters – 100 posters from our collections selected by the public”, represents a significant departure from the traditional model of curator-led projects. Instead of the museum curators, six different jury groups representing the city’s diverse public and communities, including a group from a homeless shelter, were responsible for selecting the 100 exhibited posters.
Leaving our comfort zone towards a considerably more participatory, community-led approach comes with many changes, internal and external challenges, and a lot of resistance, all of which we would like to highlight during our presentation. However, we firmly believe that putting the public at the core of our programmes and exhibitions will create more relatable, meaningful experiences reflecting our communities’ multi-faceted perspectives and interests. A museum for the public – by the public!
Keywords: Participation, community, co-curation, shared ownership/responsibility, paradigm shift
Anne Hoffmann studied Art History, Literature and Linguistics. She joined Les 2 Musées de la Ville de Luxembourg in 2011 as Deputy Curator, later also responsible for Digital Development & Social Media. In 2020, she worked as Project Manager at the Natural History Museum London, before returning to Luxembourg in 2021. Anne focuses on shaping the Museum‘s “phygital“ vision and transmedia storytelling strategy by redeﬁning how museums can engage the citizen through technology and participation.
Kyra Thielen studied Educational Science, specialising in Museum Education and Art History.
In 2017, she became Head of the Publics Department of Les 2 Musées de la Ville de Luxembourg (Lëtzebuerg City Museum & Villa Vauban), overseeing the institutions activities programming. Kyra is passionate about making museums more accessible and participatory for all visitors, and her work is focused on engaging and co-creating with different audiences and communities.
The changing face of Tokyo: From Edo to today and into the future
Kimura Sagiri, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, Japan
Tokyo has undergone constant transformation through repeated urban development, including reconstruction after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II, infrastructure development promoted by the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and the concentration of industry and population in the metropolitan area associated with the high-growth economy of the late 1950s and ’60s. Currently, Tokyo faces several challenges due to its declining international standing, slow response to technological advancements (AI, IoT, big data, robotics, etc.), climate change (such as rising average annual temperatures, more extremely hot days and tropical nights, and more frequent strong typhoons), and demographic shifts (population decline, aging population, racial and ethnic diversification due to increasing foreign residents).
The Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum opened in March 1993 as a space to reflect on the city’s history and culture, and envision its future. The museum’s permanent exhibition presents the changing times since the 1600s using real materials and elaborate models. The museum is one of the most popular cultural institutions in Tokyo, attracting many visitors from Japan and abroad as well as Tokyo residents.
The museum celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and is currently closed for renovation due to aging facilities, with plans to reopen in FY2025. The renovation is focused on ensuring the safety of the museum’s facilities, as both the equipment and the building itself are deteriorating. The museum is also working to improve its visitor services and attractiveness as a museum by improving convenience and accessibility for visitors, taking environmental consideration, and the digital environment arrangement. In parallel with the renovation work, the museum is implementing new initiatives such as the development of digital content (such as digital archives, the “Hyper Edohaku” interactive application, etc.), which allows visitors to enjoy exhibits and collection works online when the museum is closed, and a mobile museum. Despite being at a major turning point, the museum is continuing its activities in the midst of a major transition.
In this presentation, I will introduce the current and future initiatives of Tokyo and our museum and discuss the expected role and future of city museums in a rapidly changing city.
Keywords: Tokyo, turning point, urban development, renovation
KIMURA Sagiri holds an MSc in Urbanisation and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Since 2019, I have been a researcher at the Research Center of Edo-Tokyo Urban History, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, and I have been involved in the museum’s international exchange program, such as the Japan-China-South Korea International Museum Symposium. I conducted research on “Edo-Tokyo Witnessed from the Outside” and published a research report in 2022.
From one person’s story to the city history
Nini Sanadiradze, Tbilisi Museum Union, Georgia
The story of Georgia’s city museum scenography, particularly in Tbilisi, highlights the crucial role of city museums in preserving and interpreting a city’s history, culture, and heritage. Through the establishment of the Ilia Chavchavadze Literary-Memorial Museum, the city of Tbilisi was able to commemorate the life and legacy of a prominent Georgian writer and public figure, and preserve his tangible and intangible cultural heritage for future generations.
However, the challenges faced by the Tbilisi Museum Union also shed light on the need for city museums to adapt and respond to the changing needs and interests of their communities. This includes the need to properly represent the new role and historical context of the museum, as well as changing attitudes of society.
Moreover, the history of museum establishment in Georgia highlights the evolution of city museums, from the 19th century when cultural heritage was first collected, to the Soviet era when museums were used as propaganda tools, and to the present day where city museums play a variety of roles, including being cultural hubs, bridges between the past and future, and income-generating activities.
In conclusion, city museums play a vital role in preserving and interpreting a city’s history, culture, and heritage. However, in order to continue to fulfill this role, city museums need to be adaptable and responsive to the changing needs and interests of their communities.
Keywords: community, city development, society, cultural hubs, economical impacts
Nino Sanadiradze is a Georgian cultural heritage expert, professor, and communications specialist. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, an MA degree in Film Studies, and a Ph.D. in Art Studies. Sanadiradze has over 10 years of experience in the field of integrated communications, working with various international and local organizations. She is the author of numerous scientific articles and monographs, with a focus on the history of Georgian art and culture in the 20th century. Currently, Sanadiradze is the Managing Director of the Tbilisi Museums Union, which oversees nine independent museums in the city, including the Ilia Chavchavadze Literary-Memorial Museum. She is also a Professor at the Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film Georgian State University and an Invited Lecturer at the Ilia State University. Sanadiradze’s expertise in cultural heritage preservation and promotion has led her to collaborate with non-governmental organizations on various projects. Her works and articles have been published in various publications since 2000.
Forests of Knowledge: ICOM fostering sustainability on the cusp of the Anthropocene. The New York conversations
Morien Rees, Varanger Museum, Norway
Wednesday, 18 October, 2:00-3:30 pm – Afternoon roundtable sessions
Migration and social housing: Creating participatory projects with communities
Ronay Menschel Hall
Moderator: Andréa Delaplace, Université Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne (HICSA), France
Lisa Lee, Public Housing Museum, Chicago, IL, USA
Annie Polland, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York, NY, USA
Diana Pardue, Ellis Island Museum, New York, NY, USA,
Linda Norris, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, New York, NY, USA
Elena Pérez Rubiales, MUHBA – The History Museum of Barcelona, Spain
Finding a place to live has been a constant challenge for most people in big cities around the world. Now that housing is once again back at the forefront of most cities’ political agenda, it is more important than ever to take a longer-term historical overview in city museums. The exhibitions can survey the actions undertaken by government institutions to face the housing crisis as they can give a voice to community leaders and housing activists. Museums could create a better understanding of a city’s urbanistic web and highlight the importance of housing in terms of belonging and identity making.
That’s why most museums that talk about housing also talk about other thematics connected to belonging such as migration, as new migrants look for housing as a way of establishing themselves in their new city and new homes. Their struggle to find appropriate housing is the same to adapt to a new reality. In the roundtable we will examine how museum professionals are creating exhibitions dedicated to the thematics of housing and migration (October 18). Equity in terms of living conditions are essential to understand the challenges of cities today where inflation and economic fluctuations make it almost impossible for younger generations to acquire houses or simply find proper accommodations. In a city like New York, whose identity is strongly marked by the different migrant groups that arrived through the gates of Ellis Island and settled in the tenements, housing is a central part of its history and we are happy to be bringing this theme to the 2023 annual CAMOC conference.
Main question that we will be addressing in the panel: How do museums work with residents to convey experiences, preserve histories,illuminate what needs to be changed, and (re)imagine alternatives to the housing and migration crisis that is affecting most cities around the world?
Museum transformations: Collectivity, creativity, engagement and democracy
Moderator: Michael Knoll, HistoryMiami Museum, FL, USA
The Community at the Heart of Museums: Co-Curation and Collective Creativity
Kristi Paatsi, Kalamaja Community Museum / Tallinn City Museum, Estonia
Can a community museum be created without involving the community? Presumably it can, but to our team it did not seem like a good idea when we started to create a community museum in 2018 in the historic working-class neighborhood of Kalamaja (Fish House in English) in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We started working together with the community from the very first day, conducting surveys, holding focus groups and brainstorming sessions. We interviewed dozens of people who grew up in the area in the 1930s-1940s as well as those who recently moved here. Community members were able to vote for the museum’s CVI and the majority of the exhibited objects and stories are donated by community members. We also immediately engaged with the community through our outdoor exhibitions and activities even when the museum building was still under construction.
The Kalamaja community museum, which opened in the fall of 2021, was created in collaboration with community members and is intended for former, current, and future residents of the area, providing a glimpse of the neighborhood through their eyes. In this presentation, I will share the story of creating the museum and its presence in the heart of the community. And how fantasy and dreams should not be restrained.
Keywords: community, co-curation, involvement
Kristi has worked in the museum field for more than a decade, focusing particularly on the development of museum education. She is responsible for the educational work section of the Estonian Museum Association and has participated in several exciting development processes, such as creating Estonia’s only civic education laboratory, playful learning environment Children’s Republic. Today Kristi is managing the Kalamaja Community Museum and was a co-curator in its creation.
The collective museum : a citizen museum for the city of Casablanca
Mohamed Fariji, Casablanca Collective Museum, Morocco
How can we imagine a city of millions of inhabitants without a museum of its history? The Collective museum of Casablanca’s memory was gradually built from this lack, with projects carried out with artists, researchers, and residents. For ten years, an entire city and its memory have been explored. Art became a source of proposals for the city. Artist Mohamed Fariji, co-founder of l’Atelier de l’Observatoire, discusses the process of transforming a museum from a concept to a reality through collective engagement.
Keywords: Collective Citizen Museum, City Museum Satellites, Collective memory, Contemporary art
Mohamed Fariji, born in Casablanca, graduated from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Tetouan and Llotja Higher School of Art and Design in Barcelona. He develops long-term artistic projects that question the role of artists and citizens in the city. His work involves public and political decision-makers and goes hand in hand with participatory workshops or performances in public spaces. Fariji created the Observatory in 2011. He is engaged in a critical and collective reflection on the possible reuse of public spaces, as part of his aesthetic investigation surrounding the abandoned Aquarium of Casablanca.
Democracy, Museums, Libraries and Changing Spaces of Neutrality
Carol Ghiorsi Hart, Greensboro History Museum, NC, USA
Assumptions and discussions around the museum and library as a neutral space has changed, and that has had associated impacts in every area. This session will focus on how the way our institutions talk, educate, represent and program about democracy has also had to change, and that there is currently a level of risk associated with anything that is political in nature. It will also explore how we have had to balance our work in polarized communities by focusing on three settings of democracy in our history: values, documents and actions. The local urban, and often larger national, perspectives of city museums are connecting to changes in both the peoples in our communities and the larger socio-political contexts.
The Greensboro History Museum has focused on democracy since our “Project Democracy” began in 2019 with the traveling Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith” and continued with intense programming, an exhibition on the protests of 2020 and our current exhibition “NC Democracy: Eleven Elections”. People in our community, particularly teachers, are asking for our help in teaching the difficult topic of democracy, history and civics.
As a city museum that is institutionally part of our city’s library department, in addition to our museum work, we have both the resources and the responsibilities of a multi-branched library system. During the national Urban Library Council’s Annual Forum held in Washington, DC this past November, ULC’s Declaration of Democracy was unveiled. Leaders of public libraries were asked to commit to preserving, protecting and advancing the ideals of democracy so that our communities can fully participate in the democratic process. The ULC states that the “battle to protect democracy is a global struggle playing out at the local level and libraries have landed on the front lines.” We will discuss how libraries and museums can work together and as neutral spaces, yet affirm the values of democracy.
Keywords: democracy, change, libraries, history, community
Carol Ghiorsi Hart is the director of the Greensboro History Museum, NC. She is originally from NY, where she was the executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium. She has an MA, ABD from Indiana University in sociocultural anthropology with a minor in the arts and anthropology and has been an educator, curator and adjunct professor of anthropology.
On the way to a democratic city museum: Theory, vision and implementation
Sibylle Dienesch, Graz City Museum, Austria
The societal changes that accompany the multiple current crises require the next steps of development. Museums are not only cultural heritage institutions, and city museums in particular are places where democratic processes take place: the museum as an agora, the place where city residents negotiate issues relevant to them. The place where different people meet, communicate with each other and discuss contradictory ideas, develop a mutual understanding that promotes social cohesion. The museum as a zone of contact and conflict, as Nora Sternfeld puts it in her definition of a democratic museum. The realization of the democratic potential of the museum through the active participation of city inhabitants can contribute to a positive urban development, which is envisioned at the Graz Museum.
The team of the city museums of Graz and the associated municipal archive has dealt with this vision since the beginning of the year 2023. In an externally supported process, we have been working on the transformation to a democratic institution. This leads to changes in the organization, the cooperation, the internal communication as well as in the communication with the city residents. And it has an impact on the program: the topics, the formats and forms of discourse with the city residents.
This process will take several years and it requires a team that wants to go down this path and that is willing to engage with the new and experimental. Following up on my presentation on competences for a democratic culture at the CAMOC conference 2022 in Prague, I will deepen the question of which competencies are necessary for staff to allow for more democracy internally and in collaboration with external partners. Which museum formats need to be adapted, which ones need to be newly developed? I will also show the first implementations of the vision at the Graz Museum by means of our upcoming exhibition on protests and our newly established program development process, in which all 50 employees and stakeholders are involved.
Sibylle Dienesch was appointed director of the Stadtmuseum Graz GmbH – comprising the city museums and municipal archives of Graz – in January 2023. She has been part of the management of Stadtmuseum Graz GmbH since 2006 and vice-director as of 2014. She was responsible for all operational and financial matters of the Graz Museum. As part of her responsibility for the strategic development, she initiated and steered the continuous change processes towards an inclusive and intercultural institution. The work on a digital strategy and its implementation is also one of her core tasks. Contentwise her focus is on socio-cultural developments in the city of Graz. She was the co curator of exhibitions and co-editor of publications dealing with public space and with the life of people with intellectual disability. Upon her appointment as director in 2023, she started a transformation process of the Graz Museum and associated city archive, which envisions a democratic institution.
Wednesday, 18 October, 4:00-5:30 PM – Closing general session
Changing intersections, changing narratives
Ronay Menschel Hall
Moderator: Glenn Perkins, Greensboro History Museum, NC, USA
Representing intersectional communities: How to increase gender, ethnic and social class diversity in city museums?
Elif Çiğdem Artan, Independent Scholar, Istanbul, Turkey
In his book The Love of Art: European Art Museums and Their Public, sociologist Pierre Bourdieu reveals how the “cultivated class” assumes their natural superiority while lower classes admit their cultural inferiority through their experiences in art museums. Correspondingly, a series of interventions in art exhibitions, such as the Dada movement, emerged to challenge, on the one hand, established elite art traditions and, on the other hand, the expectations of museum visitors. Conclusively, by the late 20th century, the rise of the democratization movement demanded public participation from decision-making to exhibition design. As a result, in August 2022, the Extraordinary General Assembly of ICOM approved the new museum definition, highlighting participation in 21st-century museology. According to the adoptions, museums must be “open to the public, accessible and inclusive” and “foster diversity and sustainability.” However, it is still crucial to ask who can participate in museums. Against this backdrop, this study discusses the following question: How can city museums achieve to represent intersectional communities by increasing gender, ethnic, and social class diversity?
Posing this question essentially to city museums has a fundamental reason. By functioning as the history-savers of society, city museums are one of the central repositories of social memory. Thus, examining participation in city museums opens a discussion concerning citizens’ access to curatorship and inclusion in history writing. Herein, intersectionality appears as a critical concept to analyze the diversity of communities represented in city museums. While “cultivated class” in Bourdieu’s study illustrates the social distinction for access and inclusion in art museums only based on social classes, intersectionality stands for the multiple discrimination that one faces at the same time due to multiple identities concerning but not limited to gender, race, social class, ability, and age, for instance, telling a Black trans woman’s or a young factory girl in wheelchair’s story in a city museum. In this framework, this study examines a couple of participatory exhibition projects in city museums, such as in Copenhagen, Frankfurt, New York, and İstanbul, to discuss various communication strategies for representing intersectional communities in city museums, including language, material content, and design.
Keywords: Participation, Museum Communities, Participatory Museum, Intersectionality
Dr. Elif Çiğdem Artan is a sociologist with a professional and scholarly background in museology, urban studies, digital culture, migration, and gender. In her doctoral dissertation entitled The Future of the Present: Autonomous Archiving of Activist Videos, she examined collecting and preserving strategies of born-digital materials remaining from the Occupy movements in New York and Istanbul. Her current research project in Mercator-IPC 2022/23 Fellowship analyzes the comprehensive implementation of the Istanbul Convention from an intersectional perspective.
Reshaping the museum object: Re-interpreting our collections
Foteini Aravani, Museum of London, UK
It has been a long time since the museum object has been changing. Collections look different; they include born-digital acquisitions and intangible heritage among other objects. Artefacts have been created in a born-digital way for decades now. And yet, museums are still struggling with the idea of born-digital collections and social intangible heritage, similar to how they were confused by the invasion of video and video art in the 1960s. And it is even trickier now as digital culture is even more intangible and widespread than the medium of video was then. At least, back in the 60s, there was a tangible object to bring to the collections; a video tape, which is why it was somewhat easier for museums to embrace this new Cultural Revolution: the ‘new’ object was as physical as a Roman urn.
Nowadays, the digital object could be a tweet, a meme, an emoji, and anything in between. The role of the curator has clearly been shifting for many years now, from an overprotective keeper of knowledge to an extrovert storyteller.
But museums are not detached from society, sitting on the pedestal of their own authority. They should reflect the society and the social changes that occur. The role of the curator has started shifting; not focusing only on expertise but embracing more experimental work approaches to better represent the times we live in and the communities around us.
This paper will explore how contemporary art and social history collecting is evolving in terms of embracing digital and intangible artefacts but also how we represent our communities in our collecting in terms of gender representation and racial, ethnic, and religious diversity. It will focus on Museum of London’s recent community collecting projects but also interpretive practices by opening up our collections and adding community research interpretations to our objects. How our curatorial practices have been evolving moving towards the New London Museum in 2026 to represent our changing communities and new ways of collecting.
Keywords: community collecting, interpretive practices, contemporary art and culture, intangible heritage
Foteini is the curator of the digital collection at the Museum of London. She started the video
games collection at the Museum and her research interest at the moment is focusing on social media collecting. With the move of the museum at West Smithfield market, Foteini is responsible for the digital content in the New Museum. She was the Lead Curator for The City is Ours in 2017 and she has curated a range of displays including London Visions in 2019. Foteini has previously worked at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, at the British Library and at Battersea Arts Centre.
Intersections between private lives, public housing and national narratives: Community museums in Hong Kong and Singapore
Ian YH Tan, University of Hong Kong, China
Drawing on a comparative study of the Mei Ho House in Hong Kong and the Museum @ My Queenstown in Singapore, this chapter examines how community museums were established to mitigate the detrimental effects of redeveloping ageing public housing estates built after World War II in the two city-states. Such plans involve multiple stakeholders, including government, advocacy groups, museum professionals, and community members. My study demonstrates that these community museums do not exist merely as advocacy efforts or tokenistic public relations exercises that reflect the dominant discourse of progress and development espoused by the respective state governments. Instead, their meanings have evolved in tandem with changes in their respective landscapes and demographics. While most literature focuses on how such meanings are fixed through the selection of artefacts and the construction of narratives around them, I argue instead that community members involved in their community museums’ operations play a significant role in creating alternative narratives that respond to and resonate with visitors’ expectations. This creates new relevance and generates affective registers for the museums and the communities they represent.
Keywords: community museums, postcolonial development, public housing, affective heritage, architectural conservation
Ian is an adjacent lecturer in the History and Theory of Architectural Conservation at University of Hong Kong. His research interests lie in colonial and early independence architecture and focuses on postwar development of mass public housing in Asian port cities. Ian’s research and teaching engage in the parallel development of 20th century architecture and conservation, and the intersection of related fields, such as building craftsmanship and museum management.
Curating new narratives: Challenges and lessons learned
Monxo López, Museum of the City of New York, NY, USA
Imara Limon, Amsterdam Museum, Netherlands
The year 2024 will mark 400 years of Dutch settling on indigenous land and establishing the city of New Amsterdam. For this occasion, the Museum of the City of New York, the Amsterdam Museum, and the American Indian Community House (NYC) will organize a double exhibition, with attendant public and educational programming, in the cities of New York City and Amsterdam. Rather than a celebration, these collaborative projects will examine and reinterpret the impact and legacy of the Lenape-Dutch encounter, European colonization, and Native dispossession, dislocation and destruction, while drawing attention to the survival, endurance and ongoing culture and presence of Native people for the last 400 years.
The project aims to center Native American perspectives, and foster international dialogue about the enduring impact of Dutch colonialism on Native communities. In which ways does this collaboration change museum practices? How can we work in a more inclusive way? Both museums have been challenging dominant narratives about their cities’ histories, often initiated by activist movements who fight against the still often one-sided perspectives embedded in the collections and in the stories that museums continue to present. Still, we continuously encounter issues that we can learn from.
We would like to present a few case studies that bring up relevant topics, such as: How to navigate the many voices and perspectives when working with so-called communities? Which words are appropriate to use, as language is inextricably linked to cultural identities, whether it regards terms such as ‘Golden Age’ or the generic personal pronouns ‘we’ and ‘they’ to distinguish between e.g. colonizers and colonized? And what about the role of institutions: if museums are not neutral, then what is – or could be – their organizational positionality? We hope this provides for a fruitful exchange with museum practitioners, and ample room for discussion.
Keywords: communities, Native American, Dutch colonization, new narratives, inclusion
Monxo López is the Curator of Community Histories at the Museum of the City of New York, where he has worked on the exhibitions Puppets of New York, Food in New York, New York Responds, and Who We Are. He holds a PhD in political science. Monxo was born and grew up in Puerto Rico, and lives in Mott Haven in the South Bronx.
Imara Limon is a curator at the Amsterdam Museum. Recent exhibitions include Monument of Regents: Natasja Kensmil (2020-2021) and Colonial Stories: Work in Progress (2022). In 2017, Limon developed the ongoing New Narratives program for advancing equity in the museum.