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November 27, 2019

Network“Museums for reconciliation”: an ICOM training programme highlights the role of museums in processes of memory and resilience

From 7 to 11 October 2019 the Museum La Tertulia in Cali, Colombia, hosted the ICOM training programme “Museums for reconciliation: communities, pedagogies and memories”, organised by ICOM Secretariat, the Colombian Museum of Memory and ICOM Colombia.

The workshop aimed to promote reflection on the museological and pedagogical challenges that contemporary Latin American museums are facing when developing projects linked to the construction of memories and to the processes of resistance, resilience, dialogue and reconciliation in times of conflict.

Gathering national and international participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Salvador, the programme was especially meaningful in an historical moment in which social and political tensions are rising worldwide, and war and conflicts are recent or still going on in many Latin American countries.

As part of the methodology, the trainers connected the workshop with current exhibitions. One of them, “El Testigo (The Witness)”, is a harrowing exhibit of Colombian photographer Jesús Abad Colorado’s work about the ongoing internal conflict in the Country. The photographs, focused on telling the human side of the war, narrate a painful history using a very respectful narrative.

The participants were also able to “hack” one of the traveling exhibition of the Colombian Museum of Memory, “Voces para transformar a Colombia (Voices to transform Colombia)”, developed together with victims of the war and inviting the visitors to see the conflict from their perspectives. The participants studied the exhibition and suggested curatorial and educational strategies to strengthen its potential and promote reflection among the public.

The participants had the opportunity to compare the situation in their countries, their struggles but also their strategies to continue working for reconciliation in the middle of challenging contexts. The staff of the Museum of Memory organised an activity for participants, trainers and coordinators to express and share their feelings and emotions. This also served as an excellent learning opportunity in the framework of the workshop: Human rights, oral histories and co-creation were some of the topics developed.

The training closed with a concert of “Integración Pacífica”, a group of Afrocolombian elderly women who have been displaced during the conflict and who have found in Music a way of telling their stories and of overcoming their suffering.

What really impressed trainers and coordinators alike is the great potential of ICOM activities in these regions. The strong sense of community developed during the programme and the commitment of participants to strengthen museums and their impact on communities is what will surely drive the ICOM Latin American network in the following years.

The trainers of this programme were Marilia Bonas, Head of the Memorial da Resistência de São Paulo, Brazil, and Armando Perla, Manager of Museum Development and Strategic Partnerships at the Museum of Movements in Malmo, Sweden.

Icom learning

In order to shape the museum of tomorrow, ICOM delivers high standard capacity building programmes with the support of its network. The objective of these programmes is to improve museum practices in specific regions and to promote professional regional cooperation between institutions that are facing similar challenges.

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