ICOM UK / NMDC Working Internationally Conference

Jessica Juckes, International Training Programme Assistant

On 7th March, I attended the sixth Working Internationally Conference, hosted by ICOM UK and the National Museum Directors’ Council. The conference was held at National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and was entitled ‘Working Locally, Thinking Globally’.

ICOM UK will soon be publishing the conference presentations in PDF format, which we will share with the ITP network, but until then, here are my notes from three of the presentations that I found inspiring.

IMG_1826Rob Stein, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer, American Alliance of Museums (AAM)

Small museums do not necessarily feel connected to global communities.
Many museums in the US have less than five full-time staff members and are small, historic sites. They receive their funding from the state, or from their local visitors and claim that they ‘receive no tourism’.

How do we encourage a global perspective as a lens on local museum work?

Enhancing global thinking in museums can offer a perspective shift to help us address problems and see outside the box.
Every community has international/global influences.
And many of the issues museums face are existential in nature and are relevant across borders (eg ‘What is the point of museums?’)
AAM acting in a bridging role to help small museums navigate things like visa processes.

Projects that AAM has been undertaking:
Connection—Engagement: A US-China Museum Education Forum – collaboration with the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing
Museums Connect: Building Global Communities – 63 projects over 10 year period
Reimagining the Museum Conference, Colombia 2017 – encouraging collaboration & communication between Latin American museums

IMG_1840Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Scotland

Fiona Hyslop, MSP, is unique in having both international relations and culture in her job title and believes that ‘culture and external affairs should go hand-in-hand.’
For every Scottish ministerial visit abroad, she ensures cultural activity is programmed into the visit.
Highlighting the global role that museums play in diplomacy.
Cultural institutions are ‘an important part of Scottish government strategic objectives.’

Examples of recent Scottish international tours, loans and partnerships:
Monkeys! A Primate Story, National Museum of Scotland – international touring exhibition
Burrell Collection – touring to Glasgow’s twin city of Marseille while the Burrell is closed for refurbishment
Romantic Scotland at Nanjing Museum – international exhibition organised by Historic Environment Scotland & National Galleries of Scotland

IMG_1861Henry McGhie, Head of Collections & Curator of Zoology, Manchester Museum

International Symposium on Climate Change and Museums, 10-12 April 2018, Manchester

Three questions to ask ourselves:
1. What are we good at?
2. What do we care about?
3. What does the world need?

Global Risks Landscape 2018

Global Risks Report 2018, World Economic Forum

Extreme weather events and natural disasters figure highest in terms of likelihood and impact of risks affecting us worldwide.

In the Paris Climate Agreement, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, it is stated that ‘parties [i.e. countries] shall cooperate […] to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information.’

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals 

Which of the Sustainable Development Goals does your museum connect with?
There are huge opportunities for museums to contribute towards achieving the goals.

People keep say that museums are ‘trusted institutions’ in comparison with politicians and the mass media.
If museums are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem.
And if they seriously believe they are trusted in society, but are not connecting with global issues, then they are a big part of the problem!

We shouldn’t just be focusing on looking deeply and intensely at practice inside our institutions, but should also be rooting our practice in what is going on in the wider world.