Statement regarding the devastating fire in the National Museum of Brazil
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) wishes to express its deep sorrow regarding the devastating fire that has destroyed the National Museum of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest natural history museum in Latin America and Brazil’s oldest museological institution. Housed in the former Imperial palace of São Cristóvão since 1902, the museum was celebrating its 200-year anniversary this year. While we are relieved that this disaster has not caused any mortalities, we mourn the loss of the museum’s invaluable collection, which included important natural history, mineralogical, paleontological, archaeological, ethnographic, and documentary collections, which hold up to 20 million items.
For the first time, Annual Meetings without borders
From the 6th to the 8th of June, Paris became once again the centre of ICOM’s activities. The French capital welcomed more than 350 members of our organisation for the 2018 Annual Meetings, held at the UNESCO headquarters. However, this year for the first time, the conference was made accessible to the largest number of members ever via Facebook Live. The decision to retransmit in real time several sessions of the conference comes from ICOM’s priority to boost accessibility and transparency for its members, as well as finding new ways of connecting with our international, ever-growing membership. In total, more than 2,000 people watched the live – eight times the capacity of the conference room!
ICOM establishes new working group on sustainability
As representative of the global museum community, the vision of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) is a world where the importance of natural and cultural heritage is universally valued. Today, more than ever, museums face unique challenges related to social, economic, and ecological issues. While serving as witnesses of the past and guardians of humanity’s treasures for future generations, museums play a key role in development through education and democratisation. In this context, ICOM has established a Working Group on Sustainability.
ICOM statement on the necessity for adequate public funding for museums
As our Brazilian colleagues assess the extent of the devastating loss to the world’s cultural heritage following the fire at their National Museum, we, the international museum community, are forced to face some hard facts about our sector. The ongoing trend of reduction in public expenditure on cultural heritage threatens the very existence of museums in many parts of the world. The generic term ‘cultural heritage’ is frequently used by national governments to identify spending on a nation’s historic properties, monuments, sites and museums with each of these aspects in receipt of only a portion of the total budget.
Museum International: Museums and Public Policy
The latest edition of ICOM’s peer-reviewed journal, Museum International, dedicated to the theme Museums and Public Policy, is now available online. The status of museums, as cultural tenets, is poised on a delicate balance between politics (from government policy and decisions to exhibition display and presentation to the public) and the need to maintain integrity and independence. The relationship between governments and cultural institutions can largely determine the museum’s role within the communities they serve and the type of services they provide, especially in countries where museums are dependent on government policy.