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Culture across Boundaries: A conference on museum challenges and possibilities

The most recent ICOM NORD conference, organised by ICOM Denmark, was held from 30 September to 1 October, 2015 in Nuuk, Greenland as a collaboration between ICOM National Committees in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Culture across Boundaries: A conference on museum challenges and possibilities

©Eero Ehanti

Museums are important cultural institutions in every society. There is a long tradition of cooperation between museums across borders in the Nordic countries. But the need for museums to continue to cooperate and develop institutions is growing, given an increasing demand for quality and a diminishing flow of resources.

This is especially important for smaller museums and museums that operate in more isolated fashion. Several of the Nordic countries have museums in less populated regions, where the culture is not confined to the local area, but has traditionally moved around and spanned borders. While the museums are thus smaller, they encompass extended geographical areas.

“The theme of the conference, Culture across Boundaries, reflects ICOM’s core task, to work internationally in order to support cross-border understanding,” said ICOM President, Prof. Dr Hans-Martin Hinz, in his opening remarks at the conference. “This conference here in Nuuk is a perfect example of the global spirit of ICOM.” Culture across boundaries thus simultaneously refers to cooperation across the Nordic countries, and to the fact that cultures are crossing national borders.

Challenges for museums in the Nordic countries were addressed in papers on climate change, travelling exhibitions, deaccessioning, collection management and more, with a panel that discussed the museum landscape in Greenland.  One half-day was dedicated to a workshop on museum ethics. During the conference, the Greenlandic version of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums was presented, while the Faroese version of the Code was published in 2014.

The chair of ICOM Denmark, Søren la Cour Jensen, rejoiced at the success of the conference, which drew more the 60 participants. "In Greenland, collaboration between museums is essential for the exchange of ideas and knowledge. With this conference, the professional network has broadened, for the benefit of not only Greenlandic museums, but for all the Nordic nations".