Milan was chosen to host the ICOM Executive Council last December at the invitation of ICOM Italy and the organising committee for ICOM Milan 2016 General Conference.
This setting allowed members of the Executive Council to begin discussing the theme of the 24th General Conference, Museums and Cultural Landscapes, and to tour the Milan Convention Centre that will host the conference and other venues for the numerous meetings that will unfold during this international event for museum professionals.
It was an enriching and stimulating meeting for everyone, starting off with the encouraging news that during their annual budget vote, the Italian Chamber of Deputies had approved ICOM Italy’s request for support in organising ICOM’s 24th General Conference. This represents an important first achievement for the organising committee, and a reward for the team’s effort and investment in the event. Indeed, involving Italian political authorities in the project has been a concern for ICOM, especially in the aftermath of the ICOM international conference held in Siena on 7 July, 2014. The Siena Charter, developed during this conference, highlights the Italian perspective on museum’s responsibilities with regard to the heritage and landscapes that surround them. ICOM hopes that the Declaration of ICOM on Museums and Cultural Landscapes will be approved at the 24th General Conference in Milan, so that new strategic objectives and programmes may be set for contemporary museums.
Shortly before the Executive Council meeting, the ICOM President and Director General were received by local and national authorities, beginning with the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in Rome. ICOM’s representatives were encouraged by the Italian government’s support of the General Conference and the upcoming signing of an agreement between Italy and ICOM. They also met with the Milan Municipal Advisor for Culture and the Regional Councilor of Culture of the Lombardy Region, who proposed two emblematic Milanese venues—the Castello Sforzesco and the Palazzo dell’Arte of the Foundation La Triennale di Milano—for the opening and closing ceremonies. Finally, an agreement will be signed with Touring Club, an Italian tourist organisation that will organise tours of the country before and after the conference.
All in all, plans for ICOM Milan 2016 are coming along smoothly, with even more exciting progress on the horizon in 2015! Find more information on the event website: milano2016.icom.museum
ICOM Italy applauds new policies for Italian museums
The year 2014 brought two decrees that will enact important new policies for Italian museums. On 29 August, the Italian Government approved a new set of rules on the organisation of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, and on 23 December, the Minister of Cultural Affairs issued a decree to reform the organisation of state museums. ICOM Italy applauds both decrees as they take into account several of ICOM’s recommendations and refer to the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, ICOM’s definition of museum and ICOM’s standards for the management of museums.
Which are the most innovative aspects of the new law on state museums?
There are around four hundred state museums in Italy, representing less than 10% of all Italian museums. Many of them are very large and well-known, such as Galleria Borghese in Rome, Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Museo di Capodimonte in Naples and Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. Before the new decrees, state museums and museum professionals had no legal recognition or autonomy, in contrast to what was already guaranteed to state libraries and archives.
Thanks to the new decree, state museums will now have scientific autonomy and their statutes will be based on the ICOM Code of Ethics. They will have operational budgets of their own and their directors, curators and dedicated personnel will be selected through formal appointments. Twenty of Italy’s four hundred state museums will now also have complete scientific, financial, accounting and organizational autonomy. The decrees establish a national directorate for museums inside the ministry with a director general who will approve new guidelines for museum management based on the national and international standards of ICOM. Additionally, the decrees establish regional directors of state museums in all Italian regions with the task of improving the management of state museums and of creating networks with other public and private museums.
ICOM Italy demands a courageous and professional implementation of these decrees and asks the minister to appoint the directors of the twenty museums by means of transparent procedures. In times of crisis, the decrees offer a chance to improve the difficult situation of Italian museums, to promote cooperation between institutions and to create museum networks, all while improving the role and status of museum professionals.