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World Expo Shanghai 2010: ICOM celebrates American and Canadian museums in July

World Expo Shanghai 2010: ICOM celebrates American and Canadian museums in July


The ICOM World Expo Programme for July is a kaleidoscope of museums and museum professionals in the USA and Canada. From 1st to 31st July, North American museums will be celebrated through a month-long exhibition and various activities.

What’s New
Experts from ICOM International Committee for Education and Cultural Action (CECA) will continue to host events at the ICOM Pavilion in July. Canadian colleagues will excite and amaze the Expo public with the display of North American wildlife and traditional artifacts exclusively for the first weekend of July. Families and the young public will have the opportunity to learn about distant cultures through first-hand experiences.

3 & 4 July

  • A traditional way of life - Native people of North America: make your own bracelet and learn what different colours symbolise for the native people
  • A journey into the Inuit culture: discover the Inuit way of life through the time
  • Fauna of North America: explore the Animal Planet in 2010, the Year of Biodiversity
  • Sweet tooth: indulge yourself in maple syrup

Focus on the Temporary Exhibition
Museums in North America show their difference through their collections, professions and activities in a contemporary society. The Metropolitan Museum of Art shares its Internet marketing campaign, while MoMA New York presents its project targeted at a special public; the newly-opened Museum of Anthropology of University of British Columbia and the extension project of Royal Ontario Museum stun their home visitors as well as those of the World Expo.
ICOM has prepared a full month of exhibitions on the social, cultural, economic, environmental and technological developments of North American museums.

Glimpse of Museums and Innovation
Museums are constantly striving to be innovative in order to adapt to society’s needs. For example, they have provided a platform for architects to express their creativity. Many museum buildings have become local landmarks. Specialised museums, such as science and technology museums, provide the public with an opportunity to discover the scientific world. New technology stimulates museums to create innovative, interactive communications between their collections and their visitors.

Interview of the Month
Umebe Onyejekwe and Cynthia Iruobe were two of the four specialists from Nigeria who shared the African culture with the public in June. They would like to tell their story here.

Where did the ideas of the workshops come from? What did you want to convey to the public?
U.O.: The idea of the workshop came from my researches, in the process of which I have noticed that there are certain aspects of our culture that have not been fully treated by our researchers. I wanted to showcase these aspects and see if there is an equivalent in Chinese. I was stunned to find that there are.
C.I.: The workshops were intended to show the public the richness of African culture with emphasis to Nigeria, focusing on aspects such as our traditional music, dance and drama and of course the way we dress. We also set up a photo exhibition of some of our collections to showcase our material culture in terms of what people make and use.

What was your most unforgettable experience in the ICOM Pavilion?
U.O.: When we were in the V.I.P. room practicing with the musical instruments, we saw the Chinese going round the ICOM Pavilion trying to find out where the music was coming from. When they eventually located us at the VIP room, which was locked, they mounted guard and tried to take pictures of us through the glass door. The Chinese are camera crazy, they took pictures of us at the drop of a hat.
C.I.: I enjoyed every bit of the workshop and was particularly happy with the response of the crowd. One could feel their excitement from the fact that after each performance, they hung around the Pavilion in anticipation for more. My most unforgettable experience in the ICOM Pavilion will be the look on the faces of our viewers after every performance. It was the look of pure undiluted excitement and enjoyment and I cannot forget that in a long while.

What is a real museum experience for you?
U.O.: A real museum experience for me is when I can interact culturally with people from a completely different culture from mine, realise that we have some things in common, and to be able to understand and communicate with each other, learn from each other and to do so happily without any bias or prejudice.
C.I.: The most exciting real museum experience for me will be the ICOM African Month itself. It broadened my spectrum of knowledge about other ethnic groups that can be similar yet different in a beautiful way.

Which is your favourite museum?
U.O.: In general, museums of natural history and art history museums. And particularly, the British Museum, the Smithsonian and the Louvre Museum. I usually get lost in any museum I find myself in.
C.I.: Without being biased, my favourite Museum will be the National Museum, Lagos where I work.

Highlight of June
ICOM’s partnership with Angola Pavilion of the Shanghai World Expo has received enthusiastic response at the ICOM Pavilion on the first weekend of June, where visitors got to dance in the celebration of a traditional Angolan carnival.
On the second weekend of June, four Nigerian specialists from ICOM International Committee for Education and Cultural Actions entertained and educated families and the young public through lively activities and traditional African performances.

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