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Heritage Matters Webinar 3 | Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion | 18 May 2020 | 7:30 – 9:00 PM IST

Access to Webinar Recording: Video.

The burning question across the world is – What Museums Post Pandemic? Most museums in the world are closed during the onslaught of COVID 19. No country was spared. The well-endowed institutions maximised on their digital affordances streaming their collections and exhibitions. This did not grab the attention of audiences for too long. Gross inequalities of access and use in the digital domain are once again exposed. What is the future role of museums? How best can they address equality as an aspiration, equity as an outcome and diversity in all its manifestations and cultural borders? How can the institution of the Museum become more inclusive?  

Panellists: Madame Alissandra Cummins, Director, Barbados Museum and Historical Society; Former President,  ICOM, Paris; Former Chairperson,  UNESCO Executive Board, Paris & Salzburg Global Fellow . Professor Dr Hans-Martin Hinz, Berlin, Former President, ICOM, Paris; Programme Director, ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies, Peking; & Former State Secretary for Culture, Berlin Senate Administration. Mag. Elke Kellner, Managing Director, ICOM Austria.

Host: Professor Dr Amareswar Galla, Director, International Centre for Inclusive Cultural Leadership, Anant National University, Ahmedabad, Former Vice President, ICOM, Paris & Salzburg Global Fellow.  
Date: Monday 18th May 2020. International Museum Day 
Time:  7:30 – 9:00PM (1930 – 2100) Indian Standard Time

Heritage Matters Webinar 2: Civic Spaces in Times of Crisis | 02 May 2020 | 1400-1530 IST

Access to webinar recording: Audio | Video

In the current COVID 19 atmosphere civic spaces are being limited, transformed and their futures imagined. What will be the future recreational spectrum of the arts, culture, museum, heritage and environmental domains? Will urbanism – from local neighbourhoods to city centres – be reconceptualised? Could we decolonise hegemonic discourses using the cultural, economic, social and environmental disruption caused by the current crisis? How do we create enabling and empowering participatory democracy in the formations of new civic spaces as we move forward across the range of cultural borders of race, ethnicity, class, gender, caste, faith, age, sexuality, economic status, regionalism and so on?

Panellists: Brinda Somaya, Principal Architect, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai; A.D White Professor-at-large, Cornell University. USA; Chairperson, Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada. Harsh Thapar, Architect & Sustainability Expert, Vice President, HKS Architects. Prathima Muniyappa, Design Researcher, Space Enabled Group, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge USA. Fulbright Fellow 2016-17, Masters in Design Studies, Critical Conservation, Harvard University. Young India fellow 2013-14. Graduated from NID, Ahmedabad.

Host: Professor Amareswar Galla, Director, International Centre  for Inclusive Cultural Leadership, Anant National University, Ahmedabad & Salzburg Global Fellow.

Register Here: https://bit.ly/2zD8vwx

Date: 02 May 2020, Saturday

Time: 1400-1530 IST (2:00-3:30 PM)

A World without Culture is a World without a Future

Webinar on Heritage Matters | 18th April 2020 | 1400-1530 IST | Zoom

Webinar 1 – World Heritage Day 2020

18th April 2020, Saturday | 1400-1530 ( 2:00 to 3:30PM)

AnantU launches on World Heritage Day, the Heritage Matters Webinar series led by two Salzburg Global Fellows: Dr Anunaya Chaubey, Provost, AnantU and well known artist; Dr Amareswar Galla, Professor of Inclusive Cultural Leadership, AnantU. Panellists are Dr Benny Kuriakose – Expert on Sustainability and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Built Environment and Design; Poonam Trambadia, Associate Professor, AnantU, West Zone Coordinator for ICOMOS, India; & Tejshvi Jain, Founding Director, Rereeti Foundation.

Focus: Heritage – Resilience, Inclusion and Sustainability through the immediate and long-term futures, present and post-COVID19 realities.

Date: 18 April 2020, Saturday
Time: 1400-1530 IST (2:00-3:30 PM)

Access to Webinar Recording: Audio | Video


Museums facing COVID-19 challenges remain engaged with communities

– A Story by UNESCO

Around the world, museums and the communities they serve are feeling the impact of COVID-19, as populations are requested to stay home and large gatherings are prohibited.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, museum institutions large and small, public and private, have had to close their doors, most of them for a foreseeable future. An estimated 90% of the world’s approximately 60,000 museums are facing full, partial or eventual closure. Regardless of size, location or status, museums are facing tough challenges, including protecting their collections, ensuring that staff are safe and healthy, dealing with financial issues, and staying engaged with their public. They are contributing to our society, proposing innovative ideas and inspiring everyone in this difficult and uncertain time.

Finding creative ways to serve the public

Culture never stops, and it is crucial that museums keep going too, especially in the face of COVID-19. “Museums are more than just places where humanity’s heritage is preserved and promoted”, noted Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO. “They are also key spaces of education, inspiration and dialogue. At a time when billions of people around the world are separated from one another, museums can bring us together”. . Not surprisingly, we are seeing museums and the communities they serve become more resilient, resourceful and innovative. From virtual visits to Facebook and Instagram content, from podcasts to open access online platforms, museums and cultural institutions are getting creative as they cope with this unprecedented situation. Some museum professionals shared with UNESCO how they are facing this difficult time.

“COVID-19 is a pandemic affecting everyone. In order to contribute to reducing the spread, the Livingstone Museum is closed but active via Facebook and our website. Be wise, stay at home!” said Terry Nyambe, Assistant Keeper of Ichthyology, Livingstone Museum, Zambia

To continue the support they provide as social networks, many of Lebanon’s museums have made virtual tours and mobile applications available.  “We will come through this and we are keeping in mind, for after COVID-19, the reprogramming of activities in our museums, because by saving culture, we save society, its diversity, its vitality and its creativity,” said Anne Marie Afeiche, Executive Director General, Council of Museums, Lebanon.

Hamady Bocoum, General Manager of the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal, is quickly taking action. “Since the Museum closed due to COVID-19, we are engaging our experts to film guided tours of all the exhibitions. These will be broadcast in segments on Senegalese television, and will also be made available online,” he said.

Beryl Ondiek, Director of National Museums in Seychelles, stated that “In the mist of chaos, museums break the walls that keep us apart. Museums can use all of the collections and information we have, and transmit our cultural and natural heritage to communities through the internet to lift spirits and keep everyone connected.”

Devising strategies going forward

While closures are usually decided by the national authorities, most museums must devise their own coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these vary widely. The challenges are multiple; support for staff, security, and preservation of collections must continue. Not only are they not generating revenue, museums are also vulnerable when closed. On 29 March 2020, for example, the painting “Spring Garden” by Vincent van Gogh was stolen from the Singer Laren Museum, Netherlands, which is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19.

Museums are looking to a variety of sources including local and national government, the public, and other benefactors. In some cases, major foundations and philanthropic entities are launching new funds to support cultural organizations. Other initiatives include loosening grant application restrictions, extending or waiving deadlines, and honoring commitments for events that won’t take place.[1]

The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England depends on the Mary Rose Trust for conserving and displaying King Henry VIII’s favorite warship, and her unique collection of artefacts.  Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of the Trust, reported that after the museum’s closure amid COVID-19, the Mary Rose was “in mortal peril” because 90% of funding comes from visitors, with the majority generated between April and September. She described how “urgent financial help was needed from the government to ensure the complex conservation processes for the preservation of the wreck and its artefacts can continue.”[2]

Suzy Hakimian, President of ICOM Lebanon, noted that many museums with more limited means are trying to cope with an increase in the financial challenges they were already confronting in normal times.  “At the end of this catastrophe, it will be necessary to save a number of museums in order to preserve their collections and above all avoid laying off their staff” she said.  “This will constitute a fundamental part of future museum emergency plans,” she added.

[1] Inside Philanthropy https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2020/3/22/how-can-funders-most-effectively-support-an-arts-sector-decimated-by-covid-19

[2] WebWire https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=257471

Sharing good practices

UNESCO, with the support of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), is working to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the museum sector. UNESCO is currently identifying museums around the world that are offering online content and innovative strategies in response to the coronavirus crisis. A list is being established with links to museum institutions, and the information will be made available online.  A special effort has been made to focus on the Arab region and Africa, for which data are still fragmentary. This mapping will allow the general public to access these collections, while also allowing museums to exchange good practices to support the development of long-term museum strategies.

See also

UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on Museums and Collections

National Workshop | Acharya Nagarjun University, Andhra Pradesh | 17 March 2020

Prof Dr Amareswar Galla is giving a keynote speech at the National Workshop organised by Acharya Nagarjun University (ANU) in Andhra Pradesh on 17th March 2020. In his keynote Prof Galla will focus on “Tourism – An Engine for Income Generation and Employment for Nation Building”.

National Intangible Heritage Festival |14-16 February 2020 | Ernakulam

IMP Concluding Symposium | 26 February 2020 | Le Bouche à Oreille, Brussels

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.

International LDE-Heritage conference | 26-28 November 2019 | TU Delft, The Netherlands

Heritage – natural and cultural, material and immaterial – plays a key role in the development of sustainable cities and communities. Goal 11, target 4, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), emphasizes the relation between heritage and sustainability. The conference inquires into the theories, methodologies, and practices of heritage and SDG. It asks: How is heritage produced and defined? By who and in what contexts? What are the understandings of sustainability, and how are these situational and contextual? How can theoretical findings on heritage and SDGs engage with heritage practice?

The conference builds upon the multidisciplinary expertise of academics in the humanities, social sciences and spatial sciences, notably the interdisciplinary cross-over research program Design & History@TUDelft, the active collaboration in the Heritage and Identity section of the LDE-Center for Global Heritage and Development (CGHD), heritage-related research conducted at Leiden University, as well as by other associated partners in the consortium.

The Design & History@TUDelft research program brings together different departments and disciplines: architecture, urbanism, history, landscape architecture, real estate, and management and engineering. Design & History@TUDelft aims to further understanding of the role of history and heritage in the transformation of cities, and consequently using the past to enable buildings, cities, and landscapes to develop more sustainable, resource-efficient, resilient, safe and inclusive. Researchers from Leiden University approach heritage from a broad variety of disciplinary perspectives, such as archaeology, museum studies, cultural anthropology, and area studies. Leiden heritage research explores processes of heritage making, and the appreciation and valuation of material and immaterial heritage, to arrive at new insights towards the cultural constitution of societies. Creating, acknowledging and contesting heritage tends to be politically sensitive, as it involves assertions and redefinitions of memory and identity.

This conference creates a setting for academics and heritage-practitioners to explore these questions from distinct angles. We aim to bring academics and practitioners into the conversation to further their understanding of and impact on heritage conservation, and to increase their impact on the sustainable development of cities and communities. For the conference schedule, click here.

Prof. Amareswar Galla is a keynote speaker at the conference.

World Monument Watch 2020


From iconic monuments to sites of social justice, the 2020 World Monuments Watch includes 25 sites that marry great historical significance with contemporary social impact.

Prof. Amareswar Galla is on jury for the 2020 World Monuments Watch. For details of the 25 sites, click here.