Museums and intangible heritage: towards a third space in the heritage sector
On 26 February 2020, the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project is hosting its Concluding Symposium in Brussels. The conference offers a public forum for key stakeholders from the fields of intangible heritage and museums, such as heritage practitioners, museum professionals, policy makers, academics and representatives of transnational networks. They will be summarizing the theoretical and practical insights that have been pooled throughout the years of cooperation in Europe around the topic of ICH and Museums since 2017. Based upon the IMP Project, future-oriented recommendations and methodologies for both policies and practice will be launched.
When intangible cultural heritage and museums meet, numerous opportunities come about. For example, museums can enrich their object-based collections by including testimonies and practices relating to living, intangible heritage. Heritage practitioners and communities, on the other hand, can gain a wider audience, and can benefit from museum documentation and preservation expertise in order to safeguard their particular branch of intangible cultural heritage.
At the same time, intangible cultural heritage and museums can also appear at odds with each other, raise debate, or even bring about fields of tension. For example, how can museums avoid the trap of “freezing” intangible cultural heritage in time by integrating it into more static collections? How may we assure that heritage practitioners and communities are sufficiently being heard in display settings? What are the best ways to bring audiences into the museum, allowing for participatory experiences, yet avoiding the commodification of intangible heritage?
Over the past three years, the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project (IMP) has tackled these and many other questions, and explored the interaction of museum work and intangible heritage practices in a comparative European context, with Werkplaats immaterieel erfgoed (Belgium), Kenniscentrum Immaterieel Erfgoed Nederland (the Netherlands), Maison des Cultures du Monde – Centre français du patrimoine culturel immateriél (France), SIMBDEA (Italy), and Verband der Museen der Schweiz / Bundesamt für Kultur (Switzerland) as partner organizations. They collaborated with ICOM International, ICH NGO Forum and NEMO – Network of European Museum Organisations, and were among others supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe Programme, the Flemish Government, and the Swiss Federal Office of Culture. The project’s five previous meetings took place in each partner country, focusing on intangible cultural heritage, museums and diversity (Rotterdam, NL, 2017), participation (Palermo, IT, 2018), urbanised society (Bern, CH, 2018), innovation (Aubusson, FR, 2019) and cultural policies (Mechelen, BE, 2019). These conferences featured in depth theoretical contributions, workshops, artistic co-creations, numerous discussions and many inspirational testimonies from the fields of museums and intangible cultural heritage.
Prof. Amareswar Galla is the keynote speaker at the symposium. He will talk on the “Discursive Encounters in Liminal Spaces“. Full schedule here.