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International Museum Day 2016 brings ICOM President to Iran

For the 39th edition of International Museum Day (IMD), devoted to the theme “Museums and cultural landscapes”, ICOM President Hans-Martin Hinz was invited to Iran by the country’s National Committee for festivities, visits and events in and around Teheran and Shiraz.

International Museum Day 2016 brings ICOM President to Iran

On Sunday, 15 May, International Museum Day celebrations were held at the Shiraz Documentation Centre in the historical city of Shiraz, where a branch office of ICOM Iran was also inaugurated in the company of the ICOM President. Here, he spoke in the company of local authorities and museum professionals from the Shiraz region, followed by an outing to the Mausoleum of celebrated 13th century Persian poet Sa’adi.

Prof. Dr Hinz touched upon the theme of International Museum Day 2016: “‘Museums and cultural landscapes’ [is] a theme of great importance, in Iran no less. […] A combination of both nature and history, a cultural landscape is a changing and constantly evolving territory, a product of geographical identity and transformations made by people over time. Museums are in the position of explaining cultural landscapes by including tangible and intangible heritage in their exhibitions, but […] should also be responsible for their surrounding landscapes […with] an active role in acquiring and developing knowledge of the territory and presenting different views on it.” He outlined ICOM’s 70 years of service to the international museum community and the need to gaze ahead to the future, seizing the opportunity of this anniversary year for the organisation “to define our current position […] in terms of the future development of museums, their role in explaining, protecting and developing nature and culture for a more peaceful world.”

Wednesday, 18 May has seen another round of IMD celebrations in Teheran, in conjunction with the award ceremony for Best Iranian Museum, held at the National Museum. The ICOM President has spoken once again, echoing certain themes from Shiraz and seeking to introduce ICOM’s values and vision to an audience of museum professionals from around the country. He has notably highlighted ICOM’s “strong moral purpose to maintain positive cooperation among diverse peoples and nations,” based on the standards laid out in the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums: “Guided by this international framework for ethical standards, museums are increasingly taking on an active role in protecting important parts of world heritage, in their collections and through cooperative programmes multilaterally, as well as beyond their walls” – in the cultural landscapes alluded to by the theme of IMD 2016, among others.

The ICOM President has also participated in 100th anniversary celebrations of the National Museum of Iran in the capital as part of IMD activities. He furthermore has had the opportunity to sit in on the first session of the newly elected board of ICOM Iran, and to meet with a group of representatives of various museum agencies from around the country, for discussions on strengthening ties between Iranian museums and ICOM. Some 35 members of ICOM Iran (around 50% of the committee’s members) are expected to participate in the 24th ICOM General Conference being held from 3 to 9 July 2016 in Milan.

Established in 1977 at the ICOM General Conference, every year on or around 18 May, museums worldwide celebrate International Museum Day through special exhibitions, public events and activities, turning museums into spaces for dialogue. Consistently in recent years, more than 30,000 museums have participated in IMD annually.