Various articles on 'Museums and Globalisation' by eminent museum related personalities have been put up here.

Theme : Museums and Globalisation
The central theme chosen for the 2002 edition is 'Museums and Globalisation'. ICOM President Jacques Perot has called on museum professionals to take this opportunity to defend the role played by their institutions in debates on globalisation. He stresses that museums 'urgently need to take steps to ensure that they gain from the new world order, whilst remaining vigilant as to its possible repercussions on cultural development and the respect for differing identities'. International Museum Day 2002 will provide professionals with an opportunity to implement the resolution adopted by the ICOM General Assembly in July 2001, uniting with colleagues to 'oppose vigorously any proposal to abolish or weaken the long-established principle of cultural exception, in order to continue to protect the significant cultural and natural heritage of the various nations around the world.'

However the context of global free trade has also been a terrific stimulus to museums to become more outward-looking. Recent advances in communications technologies, the growth of the media, and the lowering of barriers between countries have made it easier for ideas and people to circulate freely, and have proved to be substantially beneficial in that they promote cultural diversity and enhance the cultural capital of civilisations.

Placed as they are in the heart of the global village, museums are well aware of the effects, globalisation can have on the way they are run; but they also need to release that museums' basic remit acquires especial relevance in the context of globalisation. Insofar as museums help people learn about difference, they are the chief custodians of the 'mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples' enshrined in the definition of International Museum Day.

 Visvarupa of lord Krishna

This year, the members of ICOM have once again opted for a theme which is relevant to museums everywhere in the world, of whatever nature, whatever type of collection they house. This should ensure that the 24th edition of International Museum Day draws the attention of visitors all over the world to the highly topical preoccupations of these cultural institutions, which have such a vital role to play in our globalised societies. International Museum Day has steadily grown in popularity with both museum professionals and the public, and each year sees more and more ICOM members taking part in the event.
Suggested activities to celebrate International Museum Day 2002:

Day devoted to other cultures to raise awareness of diversity and difference.

Drawing attention to the importance of local heritage in preserving cultural diversity.

Twinning trips to find out about a museum in another country, how it is managed, what its problems are and the directions in which it could develop.

Fostering international links.

Raising awareness of the global nature of the work of museums, the fact that there is an international network of museums and the significance of this global dimension for museums.

Informing visitors about the goals, functions and activities of ICOM and the national committees via meetings and exhibitions.

Agreeing on a theme for museums in a given country, related to the International Museum Day theme.

Signing manifestos (e.g. concerning the principle of exempting culture from free trade agreements).

Exhibitions on legislation designed to protect heritage and safeguard the principle of cultural exception.

Briefing museums on the new balance of power in the world and its implications for the world's cultures.

Globalisation, Culture and Museums
by Linda Young,
Senior Lecturer, Cultural Heritage Management, University of Canberra, Australia

Globalisation is often conceived as a tidal wave, a catastrophe that obliterates all in its path: nations, economies, communities, cultures. It is huge and immensely powerful- as uncontrollable as a force of nature. Everywhere it affects ordinary individuals as well as large political and economic structures. It is inescapable. However, the tidal wave metaphor does not give the whole picture; it describes the shock of globalisation, but not the dynamic.
Firstly, cultural globalisation is not new. Cultural contact, clash and change have always accompanied the economic contacts of trade and the political contacts of conquest. And although culture is always place-bound, it is never static. Cultural diffusion occurs throughout history, creating new cultural forms, often resisted as impure and dangerous. But aspects of hybrid change inevitably become adopted into mainstream culture. There never was and never can be a single pure stream of local, national or ethnic culture, other than a variant which receives the imprimatur of political correctness - for a time ... Yet change was once so slow that culture could seem eternal, before sea travel and European trade and imperialism induced unprecedented cultural (and other) changes in Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. Today, however, technological developments enable cultural contact at such an individual level that it pervades daily life as never before.
Elements of Western culture are taken up, yet they receive a local twist. Rock music acquires ethnic expressions; Hollywood spawns Bollywood; TV audiences watch local soaps in between the syndicated comedies. Traditionalists see such incursions as the corruption of authentic cultural expression. But with different eyes, we can see that hybrid forms contain their own logic and integrity. Museums will continue to have a role as the repositories of traditional, even extinct, cultures. Specimens should always be preserved as a record of and a tribute to the past. At the same time, museums must avoid both antiquarianism and nostalgia.

This means we must engage with original owners or their descendants to understand the context of cultures now embedded in museum collections. It might mean repatriating some material. But experience already shows that the relationships formed between museums and the subjects of their collections can produce new kinds of knowledge. Museums should now also document and collect the hybrid forms emerging in their domains, drawing on specialist museological expertise, unconstrained by conventional canons. Such collections of past and present will become, in cultural theorist Arjun Appadurali's description, a "warehouse of cultural scenarios". Museum collections constitute a resource for human creativity, and we should facilitate their use by our communities.
And of course museums must interpret both old and new cultures, informed by the perspective of tolerance. Pride in the achievements of one's own culture, together with a curiosity and respect for other cultures, defines museums' way ahead.

Culture and World Trade
by Patrick Boylan,
Prof. of Heritage Policy & Management, City University London, U.K. and Manager, Culture & Development, World Bank Development Gateway.

At first glance, questions of globalisation, world trade and the state of the global economy may seem to have to do with the progress of the world's museums and cultural heritage. However, this is not the case. Firstly, cultural and leisure activities require free and adequate financial resources. In poor economic conditions, these activities are therefore not a priority. Furthermore, in most countries museums still depend on financial support from government. This support in turn depends on taxpayers providing enough income and trade.
The plain fact is that over recent years, public money for museums and related services has diminished in almost every region of the world, and under political and governmental systems of almost every type. Although cuts have fallen most heavily on developing countries, some of the largest reductions have been seen in very prosperous countries as a result of tax reduction policies.
At the November 2001 WTO Ministrial Summit in Doha, Qatar, the 143 countries agreed "by consensus" only the working agenda for what will be many hundreds of hours of difficult negotiations over the coming years, nevertheless, it was encouraging to see that in principle at least the original 1948 "cultural exception" remains in place. As a matter of general principle under GATT, any kind of indirect restriction or discrimination in relation to international trade is not permitted. However, from the very beginning, most if not all countries insisted on a special exception - the "cultural exception" - for measures intended to protect and promote national cultural interests and values. Consequently, trade restrictions can be legal in areas which aim to promote national cultural and moral values, or national and minority languages and cultures. More directly relevant to museums is that, under the "cultural exception" consensus, countries may also place restrictions or bans on the export of cultural property such as antiquities or works of art considered to be of national importance.
Since 1995 certain very powerful international commercial interests have been campaigning for the abolition of the "cultural exception", on the grounds that measures such as support for national creative media and controls on the export of the national cultural heritage, clandestine archaeology, etc., are an unacceptable restriction on world trade and should therefore be abolished. The survival of the "cultural exception" in the Doha agenda is therefore in principle a major victory.

We Are No Longer Alone
by Frangois Tremblay,
Head of the International Exhibitions Department, Musee de la civilisation, Quebec, Chair of ICEE

The days are long gone when a museum could simply present man-made objects or works of art in the context of their immediate surroundings. Globalisation has slowly but surely altered the rules of the game as regards the relationship between museums and their visitors, how exhibitions are planned and how these plans are actually implemented.
The fact that information now circulates faster and more freely has changed the attitudes and especially the expectations of the public, who have become more curious, better-informed and more demanding. This means that exhibition designers have had to adopt both a more scientific and a more outward-looking, innovative approach. The museum has simultaneously to convey, to receive and to pass on information. Exhibitions have to be visitor-friendly and entertaining; but this alluring first impression has to be underpinned by an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject which is indexed and classified so as to be accessible and encompasses the answers to every possible question.
The interconnectedness of systems and the advent of increasingly rapid communications media have also profoundly altered our practices. Instant access to information about the great museums of the world and their collections, and facilities for creating and crossing databases in specific fields of research are just a couple of examples of the potential of the tools generated by globalisation. Communications technologies have turned us into virtual neighbours, cementing relationships between colleagues and promoting both the exchange of knowledge and its dissemination via exhibitions. The world-wide networks to which specialists and museology professionals belong have greatly facilitated exhibition exchanges. Indeed, a new type of exhibition has emerged in the last few years: virtual exhibitions on the Web are mapping out a new communications niche for museums.
If I have so far emphasised the positive effects of globalisation, that does not mean I am blind to its shortcoming. One cannot help wondering how, from the notion of encouraging international trade, we have reached a point where it goes without saying that, in the future mapped out for us by the great financiers, all cultures and national identities are doomed to merge in the name of unbridled capitalism.
In this great movement, which is rocking the foundations not only of political entities and interest groups, but also of whole continents, museums and especially international travelling exhibitions will have a major role to play, in that their essential tasks are to mediate between cultures and to serve as vehicle for national identities. Unless they are reduced to mere propaganda tools, these exhibitions can make an important contribution to visitors' knowledge of societies which are very different from their own. They can foster tolerance and so help to pave the way for the inevitable changes and frictions generated by closer contact between fundamentally different cultures.

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