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December 2, 2021

#ICOM75 x ICOM Voices: Museum collection storage

On the occasion of ICOM’s 75th Anniversary, ICOM Voices invites you to take a deep dive into the organisation’s history by publishing two speeches made by museum professionals about their experiences and projects relating to a variety of timeless, evolving and relevant topics.

This special feature — ICOM Voices Past — is an opportunity to gain new perspectives on contemporary challenges by drawing inspiration from these testimonies from ICOM’s past. The texts that we have selected for you this month are transcripts of speeches that were given during two of ICOM’s General Conferences that took place in London in 1950 and in Washington, D.C. in 1976 respectively.

 Storage of Ethnographic Collections in Developing Countries

Nana-Kow Bondzie, Executive Secretary, Ghana Museums & Monuments.

In December 1976, ICOM and UNESCO held an International Conference on the topic of museum collection storage in Washington, D.C. The aim was to provide a platform for museum professionals from around the world to share their experiences and discuss the particular challenges they faced in storing their collections.

This transcript of the speech given by Nana-Kow Bondzie, then Executive Secretary of Ghana Museums & Monuments, outlines the global situation of ethnographic collection storage in the Global South, particularly in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Nana-Kow Bondzie alerts us to the lack of storage space for museum collections, which are kept in unsuitable premises and are therefore less accessible for restoration and study. She emphasised the need for properly trained storage personnel.

Museum collection storage remains at the heart of ICOM’s concerns today. This is illustrated in the adoption of Resolution 4 at its 25th General Conference in Kyoto in 2019: “Measures to protect and improve collection storage throughout the world”, and the latest issue of its journal Museum International, which was devoted to the topic.

Access the original report here