Message from Prof. Dr. Anne-Catherine Robert-Hauglustaine Director General of the International Council of Museums (ICOM)

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Greetings to museum colleagues of

Pakistan on International Museum Day

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) fosters international debate within the museum community to improve our work throughout the world, and established International Museum Day in 1977. It is a unique occasion for museums to promote activities and enjoyment in order to stir public awareness about the crucial role conferred to museums in todays society. This interplay consists of a series of special events that are always inspired from a main theme.

Last years event was a real success: 35,000 museums participated in 145 countries around the world, holding exhibits, social and cultural gatherings that appealed to the public immensely. Museum professionals and cultural institutions gathered around the theme “Museum Collections Make Connections”. It illustrated how museums contribute in the unravelling of a story and engage their community through shared memory through the collections displayed.

This years edition focuses on “Museums for a Sustainable Society”.

Changes on a global scale increasingly have a direct repercussion on our daily lives.

In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, the priority once given to culture seems to be receding before the necessity to meet the urgent pressures of war, famine, or sudden economic or political change. This stance compromises, in many ways, the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Yet, cultural institutions, and museums in particular, lie at the very heart of all efforts to promote sustainability. In 2010, UNESCO defined culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. How does culture act, then, as a catalyst for environmental sustainability, human wellbeing, and economic viability?

Museums are a clear illustration of the pivotal role of cultural sustainability today. Their primary vocation is, without a doubt, to encourage intercultural dialogue and to work towards mutual understanding, a sustainable behaviour and a better knowledge of their respective past, as well as the culture and history of others. As a privileged place of emotional response and intellectual curiosity, museums are in a position to provide an important service to society. Not only do they offer perspectives for the future, but they also enable visitors to find answers about present-day issues.

As such, museums are a cornerstone for peace, as they strive towards “the enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding and cooperation”. This is precisely why museum education and capacity building are of an utmost importance, particularly in terms of public outreach. The defining purpose of museums- any type of museum, that is – today is to stir awareness of the need, more than ever, to adopt a sustainable use of natural resources.

Culture and museums are points of departure for the development of a sustainable society. For many decades now, the educational role of the museum stands firm as the primary principle that motivates all museum initiatives. It is our conviction, therefore, that politicians and the State likewise have a shared duty to provide as much support to cultural institutions as possible. Cultural policy can play a pivotal role in reaching multi-faceted long-term objectives. This is why it should be defined as a priority within a given political framework.

From the perspective of museum professionals, the only acceptable principle is that of academic and scientific freedom. In order to guarantee high-level museum work, it is important that professionals with certified qualifications be involved and that modern management methods enable cooperation and team-work for the benefit of exhibitions and other activities.

Museums are constantly facing new challenges. Where is inspiration for constant renewal to be found?

There is no place more relevant than ICOM. We have a network of over 34,000 members in some 140 countries through which experiences can be shared more easily amongst colleagues from all over the world. Our deepest conviction is that dialogue is the only way we can learn from each other and thus contribute, in turn, to the adjustment of museums and other cultural institutions to evolving societies.

ICOM has 30 International Committees, which offer a broad spectrum of themes that include museum theory as well as highly practical aspects of museum work. These aspects range from educational work to management, from collections to documentation – regardless of the type and level of museums. These are ICOMs treasures. Whats more, colleagues have the chance to meet at least once a year during the annual conferences of the ICOM Committees.

It is thus a great pleasure for me to invite museum colleagues and museum institutions to join ICOM and work actively together for the benefit of both your country and the international museum community. ICOM

Pakistan, our newest National Committee, has been doing an excellent job fostering museum professionals participation in the ICOM family. Congratulations!

Have a nice International Museum Day!


Published in: Volume 06 Issue 20

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