The summer of 2021 has so far been challenging, especially for many countries in Europe who have been affected by the unprecedent levels of rainfall seen in recent days. The resulting flooding in Belgium and Germany has also been accompanied with tremendous loss of life.
ICOM offers its sincere condolences to the governments of the countries affected, as well as to those who have lost loved ones in this tragic disaster. The images shared by national and international media in the aftermath of this tragedy show the extent of the damage. As civic agencies respond to this disaster, supported by local communities, museums too are seeing support come in to help them salvage what they can as quick as possible.
ICOM is in close contact with the National Committees of Belgium and Germany and is offering all possible support to recover from this disaster. The initial assessments are clear: some museums in Belgium and Germany have suffered extensive damage; exhibitions and stores have been flooded and some collections destroyed. Museum professionals and curators are in a race against time to salvage what they can and ensure the safety of their premises.
To further support this cultural heritage, we have also witnessed tremendous solidarity amongst heritage protection professionals, and some museums have already benefited from the quick response of Blue Shield Committees who have been coordinating emergency aid. Indeed, in Belgium, conservators have been working for several days alongside the manager of two municipal museums in Verviers (in French) that have been particularly affected by the flooding. ICOM welcomes and encourages the solidarity shown by these specialists.
ICOM will do everything in its power to continue to support these emergency responses for the museums affected. In addition, ICOM will continue to push for the inclusion of climate change into its sustainable development policies. The impact of climate change on our society and our museums must be considered and is a priority for our organisation. Indeed, in a statement (in German), ICOM Germany has called for a decisive approach to climate change. In a few days, during his speech at the G20 round table ‘Addressing the Climate crisis through Culture’, the President of ICOM will also have the opportunity to remind ministers of culture from across the world of the urgency of this issue.
- Statement ICOM Germany – ICOM Deutschland fordert unbürokratische Hilfen und einen entschiedenen Umgang mit dem Klimawandel (19 July 2021)
- Statement MSW – INONDATION : le Bouclier Bleu fait appel aux professionnels pour Verviers – votre musée peut-il accueillir des collections de musées touchés? (16 July 2021)
- Statement LVR – LVR-Museen von Hochwasserschäden betroffen (15 July 2021)