"A nation is alive when its culture is alive"
"Museums and Universal Heritage"
as the theme for International Museum Day 2007
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) announces "Museums and Universal Heritage" as the theme for International Museum Day 2007, to be celebrated the week of Friday, 18th of May in museums throughout the world. ICOM"s 23,000 individual and institutional members in 145 countries are especially encouraged to participate most actively this year with special events ranging from music, dance and theatre performances to special exhibitions of art from the reserves, and free entrance, sometimes both day and night.
The message for International Museum Day is pertinent: "We are all responsible for universal heritage". Alissandra Cummins, President of ICOM explains:
"This year, more than ever, we need to raise consciousness about the role of museums in teaching individual and collective responsibility for global heritage."
"ICOM"s International Museum Day has high purpose in promoting access to museum collections to focus on how cultural diversity and universal heritage go hand in hand. ICOM is inviting the world"s museums and their communities to show how, as a member of a family, neighborhood, tribe, nation, ethnic group or religion, and as public citizens, on all levels, we are separately and together responsible for sharing and protecting our respective and common heritage."
For ICOM, universal heritage means both natural and cultural heritage, the tangible objects that make up collections as well as the intangible discourses, knowledge, and creative expressions that accompany these. As per the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, museums are responsible for preserving and promoting this heritage. In short, ICOM"s answer to globalization is encouraging a new universal responsibility for heritage in all its culturally diverse expressions.
Visiting museums on International Museum Day is a sure way to participate in celebrating 40,000 years of diverse human creativity and join the pledge to universal heritage.
The cultural heritage of a people is the memory of its living culture. It is expressed in many different forms, both tangible (monuments, landscapes, objects) and intangible (languages, know how, the performing arts, music, etc.). The origins of this heritage are multifarious, too. In retracing its own cultural lineage, in recognizing the many different influences that have marked its history and shaped its identity, a people is better able to build peaceful relations with other peoples, to pursue what is often an age-old dialogue and to forge its future.
To value the cultural heritage and to care for it as a treasure bequeathed to us by our ancestors that it is our duty to transmit as wholly as possible to our children, is a sign of wisdom.
Today, the biggest challenge facing UNESCO is to make the public authorities, the private sector and civil society as a whole realize that the cultural heritage is not only an instrument for peace and reconciliation but also a factor of development. There are numerous examples in which a new approach to the management of the cultural heritage has promoted economic growth by creating employment opportunities for local populations, whether through crafts, cultural tourism and the emergence of new trades or through new forms of activity.
A museum’s primary purpose is to safeguard and preserve the heritage as a whole. It carries out whatever scientific study is required to understand and establish both its meaning and its possession. In this sense, it helps in the preparation of a global ethic based on practice for the conservation, protection and diffusion of cultural heritage values. A museum’s educational mission, whatever its nature, is every bit as important as its scientific work.
A museum also presents the interactions between culture and nature: an increasing number of museums are focusing their interest on science, natural science and technology.
Finally, a museum works for the endogenous development of social communities whose testimonies it conserves while lending a voice to their cultural aspirations. Resolutely turned towards its public, community museums are attentive to social and cultural change and help us to present our identity and diversity in an ever-changing world.