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New ICOM UK membership benefit – A Meeting Place: Online Global Discussions for Museum and Gallery Professionals

A Meeting Place: Online Global Discussions for Museum and Gallery Professionals

October 2020 – March 2021


British Council in partnership with ICOM UK and Museums Association are pleased to announce a new series of live online conversations for leading museum and gallery professionals in the UK and around the world to connect and share experiences.

Focusing on innovative practices in the current context of Covid-19, international panellists will offer invaluable insights on how museums can be a force for change, addressing questions of climate change, digital innovation and decolonisation through new working practices.

These conversations will offer the opportunity to share experiences and foster professional sector networks that can lead to long-term international partnerships.

Details on how ICOM UK members can register for their free place will follow soon.  In the meantime, save the dates in your diary.

22 October 2020, 10am UK BST (British Summer Time)
24 November 2020, 10am UK GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
15 December 2020, 10am UK GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
17 January 2021, 10am UK GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
16 February 2021, 4pm UK GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
16 March 2021, 4pm UK GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

The series of international conversations is exclusively for ICOM UK members, MA members and British Council international partners.

To register for the free events in January – March 2021, you will need to renew your ICOM UK membership before 31 December 2020 for the 2021 membership year.  We will write to all current members in mid-October when we open for 2021 membership year renewals and applications.  Visit the ICOM UK website for further information on the membership renewal process.

We look forward to seeing you online soon!

ICOM follow-up survey: the impact of COVID-19 on the museum sector

The COVID-19 pandemic is still seriously affecting cultural institutions around the World. While some museums have reopened with major limitations, others are still facing the consequences of the crisis behind closed doors.

ICOM’s first report, published back in May, presented a dire situation for museums and museums professionals around the World, with 95% of cultural institutions forced to close in order to safeguard the wellbeing of staff and visitors, and serious economic, social and psychological repercussions.

To gather further information and additional data on how the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is affecting and will affect the cultural sector in the short and long term, ICOM has launched a second global survey. Most of the sections and questions refer to the previous survey, and will allow ICOM to assess the course of the crisis and its perception by museum professionals. Some questions, on the other hand, take into account how the situation has evolved in recent months, especially in view of the progressive reopening of museums in some parts of the world.

New and additional data will allow ICOM to analyse the trends of the crisis for the museum sector and to better understand the needs of museums and professionals in the short and long term.

Thank you for your time and cooperation, it will take no longer than 10 minutes!

CLICK HERE to complete the survey.

European museums defend their partnerships in China

This article was first published by The Art Newspaper

As China faces growing criticism over its detention of Uyghers and crackdown in Hong Kong, Tate, V&A and the Pompidou explain why it is important to continue working in the country.

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

“The V&A’s history of working in and with China stems back to our earliest years, as a new museum building a collection celebrating the finest examples of art and design from across the world. Today our international strategy focuses on sharing the V&A’s collections, knowledge and expertise with the widest possible audience and is rooted in the belief that cultural exchange—particularly at museum to museum level—can be highly impactful as a means of generating greater understanding between global cultures and communities.

The V&A’s role as a founding partner in establishing Design Society was to help establish a new cultural platform at the heart of a manufacturing and creative megacity, a centre of design innovation where the issues and opportunities of our time are the most acute. Over five years, we offered professional advice and training to multiple departments, supported the creation of a new learning strategy focused on an extensive community engagement programme and developed a long-running display featuring over 250 objects from across our collections in the V&A’s Values of Design gallery. Due to the impact of Covid-19, and temporary closures at both Design Society and the V&A in recent months, the initial contract has not yet concluded—discussions are ongoing about the future of our relationship under any new agreement.

The V&A receives approximately 40% of its income from the UK government. The rest of our operating budget must be drawn from sponsorship, donations, membership and commercial activities. In the current financial environment, we recognise an increased need for financial resilience. Innovations like our partnership with Design Society play an increasingly important part in ensuring the V&A is financially sustainable, contributing to the ongoing preservation of national collections, keeping the V&A free to visitors and helping fund a varied programme of free displays, talks, tours and research.”

Tate, London

“International cultural exchange is extremely important to Tate and to the UK as a whole. As part of our charitable purpose we aim to bring art to as many people around the world as possible. Sharing Tate’s collection and expertise internationally and promoting British art outside the UK means we can reach audiences worldwide and engage in cultural dialogue in diverse social and political contexts. The art scene in China has grown exponentially in recent years with many international cultural institutions working in the region. Tate has long been engaged with Chinese art and artists, with collegiate exchange between the British and Chinese cultural sectors.

The project with Museum of Art Pudong has been developed over a period of time and is one of many professional relationships Tate holds with museums around the world. It is a collaboration with museum colleagues committed to increasing Chinese people’s access to the possibilities of international art. The project will help Tate reach Chinese audiences and deepen our understanding of the rapidly growing Chinese art world.

As a public institution, we always work with the backing of the UK Government and the approval of our trustees.

We respect the views of artists and work in dialogue with them. We welcome Ai Weiwei’s views, just as we welcome the views of all other artists with whom we work throughout the world. Our collaboration in Shanghai is about people to people relationships with Lujiazui and in the context of the gallery they are creating, sharing expertise and art. In line with the British Council and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, we believe that cultural relations play a vital role in the world today.”

Serge Lasvignes, the president of Centre Pompidou, Paris

“The Centre Pompidou is an independent public institution. It opened the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project in China with backing from the French Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs, as well as the French Ministry of Culture. We work in close collaboration with both, and in particular with the French consulate in Shanghai, although we do not intervene in international matters handled by the French government, or the prerogatives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry has recently given its recommendations on the situation of the Uighur issue and on Human Rights in China and Hong Kong (available on the website

The Centre Pompidou and its staff work independently with their Chinese counterparts to choose works, themes and exhibition setups. In compliance with Chinese law, exhibition content is approved by the authority in charge of cultural affairs. The authorisation and approval process may seem complex but we do currently have sufficient freedom to be able to work with China. Should this cease to be the case, we would rescind our collaboration; it goes without saying that all conditions for the conservation of our works have been met. Our foremost ambition is to be able to show and share the sheer wealth of our collections and to provide our Chinese counterparts with our expertise in running museums and outreach.

Shanghai is developing as a new cultural hub; we are not alone in seeking to move in there. Other museums are gaining a foothold, sometimes surprisingly quickly, as seen with the Shanghai Power Station of Art, the Rockbund Art Museum, the Yuz Museum, the Long Museum and several art galleries and contemporary art fairs being organised.

Being established in Shanghai also provides an opportunity to explore non-Western forms of modernity and to forge ahead with our work for the Centre Pompidou collection which now comprises over 200 works produced by nearly 120 artists of Chinese nationality or born in China, dating from the 1930s to the present and featuring all media and the most established names such as Pan Yuliang, Chen Zhen, Huang Yong Ping, Fan Lijun through to more contemporary talents such as Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Agence MAD, Liu Jianhua etc.

Getting established in Shanghai does not only stem from a policy of outreach or cultural radiance with a view to Westernisation. The Centre Pompidou international development policy is based on experimentation. This involves drawing up a project with a partner, in this instance in Shanghai with a public–private partner reporting to the Shanghai city council. We do not have a single template, we implement projects over a 5-10-year period, factoring in our partner’s expectations and local specifics which differ greatly in Shanghai compared to Málaga and Brussels. With China, the Centre Pompidou has long fostered exchanges and cooperation initiatives, starting in 1989, when the Centre presented in Paris Chinese artists in the exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre (1989) and in 2003 it organised the exhibition Alors, la Chine?, the greatest Chinese contemporary art event ever organised in France at the time, not forgetting the more recent Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou 1906-1977 exhibited in Shanghai in 2016. Our foremost aim is to introduce the Chinese public to modern and contemporary art. They are increasingly open to other western cultures and interested in forms of contemporary creation. Without being accused of naivety, we firmly believe that exchange can elevate and help to foster tolerance and curiosity. The opening of the Centre Pompidou X Westbund Museum has been a success despite the Covid situation.

The exhibition The Shape of Time, which is still running, explains the development of the concept of time through over 100 emblematic works by major artists, the likes of Kandinsky, Mondrian and Duchamp, Miró and Picasso as well as modern artists from Asia like Ding Yi, Zao Wou-Ki, Zhang Huan and Kazuo Shiraga. The dialogue between the thinking and artistic traditions in east and west has been launched. As for the temporary exhibition Observations, about new media, it highlighted some 15 works and artists, including Claude Closky, Dan Graham, Mona Hatoum and Zhang Peili. These video projects explore the concept of “observing and being observed”, suggesting a difference between observation, surveillance and censure, which theme could surely be considered especially sensitive? Ultimately, the question is whether we can best serve democracy by ignoring China or by embracing it, forging links and giving access to western culture, as The Art Newspaper China most certainly does.”

Responding to Widespread Demands, Museums Are Acquiring More Works by Artists of Color. But How They Do So Matters More Than Ever

This article was first published by artnet

Artists and cultural producers say museums need to collect and exhibit works with more respect and care.

The controversy that erupted last week over the Whitney Museum’s planned—and quickly cancelled—exhibition of works, many by Black artists, that the museum acquired through a fundraiser in June has shined a spotlight on a simmering issue.

These days, many cultural producers of color say it is no longer enough for museums to acquire Black art, but to do so with the same respect and care they typically offer to white artists. Until recently, that part has gone largely ignored.

The Whitney, which can take years to organize a single exhibition, conceived of the since-cancelled show, titled “Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change,” in response to the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Announced three weeks before it was set to open, the show was to include around a dozen works by Black artists that the museum bought for $100 each at a fundraiser organized by the Black photography collective See In Black to raise money for various non-profits, including the Youth Empowerment Project and the National Black Justice Coalition.

The show, which artists learned of through an email from curator Farris Wahbeh sent on the same day the show was announced, struck many as sloppy and exploitative.

“It just seemed like they were going to do it regardless,” says Micaiah Carter, the cofounder of See In Black. “And they just seemed like, ‘We’re the Whitney, we’ve acquired these, and you’ve got to be happy.’”

Curate Means Care

That attitude didn’t come as a huge shock Carter, nor to See In Black cofounder Joshua Kissi, nor the other Black artists and cultural producers I spoke to for this story, many of whom say the museum’s approach was simply business as usual.

“I’m kind of glad this situation happened, as stressful as it was,” Kissi says. “Because it is an example of how art institutions have traditionally interacted with Black artists,” especially when dealing with work museums assume “rightful ownership over.”

The prevailing impression in the industry is still that museums bestow opportunity on Black artists simply by including them in exhibitions, when in fact, the opposite is true: to truly fulfill their responsibilities as cultural institutions and survive and stay relevant in a changing world, museums need Black artists.

The Whitney “missed a great opportunity to be an ally to Black artists in an era that’s super sensitive,” Kissi says. Unless other institutions do better and prove they’re equipped to provide a meaningful forum for discussions about race, they’ll risk seeing more Black artists march out rather than in.

Exhibiting “political” work is still rare, with many art institutions steering clear of “anything that would be considered controversial,” says curator Larry Ossei-Mensah.

But even when they try, many art institutions have a history of not “dealing with Black and brown artists with the same level of care [as white artists].” he says.

When organizing a show, curators typically should ask a few questions. “Who does this benefit? Who does this harm? Who is this art serving? And what was it for in the first place?” says La Tanya Autry, a curatorial fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and co-creator of the Museums Are Not Neutral advocacy group.

After determining the show’s cultural value, the Whitney, she says, should have collaborated with the artists involved in it.

A major aspect of the controversy was that the Whitney did not pay market prices for the works it bought at the See In Black auction, leading many of the artists involved to feel especially cheated and undervalued. In its email to the show’s participants, the museum offered a free lifetime admissions pass.

This sent a clear message to Laurent Chevalier, who donated a work for the fundraiser.

“In [curator Farris Wahbeh’s] email to the artists, he said the work that was selected was for this time and of this moment,” Chevalier says. “If so, you should be providing resources to people to make sure they can keep doing the work you’re so enamored by.”

Wahbeh did not responded to Artnet News’s request for comment. In a statement from the museum, a spokesperson told Artnet News: “We have reached out to all of the artists directly and we are considering all of these issues carefully.”

What About Today’s Artists?

So far, the art industry’s attempts at reparations have largely involved celebrating artists that institutions overlooked years ago, rather than interrogating why those exclusions happened in the first place.

“A lot of times, the stuff that they’re so tremendously excited about was made in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Chevalier says. “So it’s like, wait a minute, if you’re excited about work made four decades ago, and if the system led you to overlook Frank Bowling and Barkley Hendricks, what about the system has changed when you’re trying to catch up?”

Not much, according to Autry, given that museums “have not made significant changes to the conditions that created these problems.”

When, one by one, institutions issued statements in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after the police killing of George Floyd, many museum employees (including ones at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) quickly turned around and called them out as “racist environments,” Autry says.

Stumped as to how to react, “the best the institutions could come up with is to throw on a show or a program. They really keep thinking of that quick, band-aid fix, when what they need to do is fix their internal dynamics,” she says.

Meanwhile, even if these institutions have professionals of color who can “highlight all the problems in the internal dynamics,” she says, “these institutions will typically just shut that person down, and say, well, we’ve got these artists of color.“

Autry, who was openly critical of how MoCA handled its cancelled exhibition of Shaun Leonardo’s drawings of police brutality, says a museum’s job is to set the stage for meaningful dialogue, internally and externally.

But Ossei-Mensah says the fallout from the Whitney show may have an influence over how future self-organized events by Black artists, such as the See In Black fundraiser, are put together.

“Either we will get more creative about how we do a sale like that,” Kissi says, ”or find other ways to support our communities, other ways to support visibility.”

When institutional validation comes at such a steep cost, artists may opt to sell their works directly through galleries to collectors willing to pay market values, Carter says, rather than “trying to trust the system that’s already broken. And I don’t know if it is even possible to fix at this point.”

Assuming it is, Autry suggests white institutions look to Black museums for guidance, as they have “already been doing that kind of work,” she says.

“I don’t want museums to be the same 20, 30, or 50 years from now,” Autry says. “More professionals of color in the art world have been speaking up, and we should never go back.”

What should a museum look like in 2020?

This article was first published by Vanity Fair

Black life—our joys and our oppression—has been embedded into American history since the first ship of enslaved Africans arrived in 1619. Now we’re seeing a seismic shift in how individuals, corporations, and institutions are reckoning with our nation’s racism.

On social media, companies use marketing dollars to value signal their “wokeness”; a trend that has made its way into the cultural sphere, with museums sharing the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag alongside works by African American artists. In an ideal world, this show of solidarity would be powerful. But, as a former employee of Creative Time, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I, like many art workers and visitors, have been underwhelmed. Watching museums like the British Museum and the Met—institutions with historic ties to colonialism—use a slogan rather than admit to their own roles in the “race problem” ignites a desire for a more holistic investigation of museums not only as homes for art and culture, but as entities with both the buying power and the political ties to make a lasting impact on life beyond this uprising.

There is a chasm between institutions issuing newsletters about “standing in solidarity” and those, like the Walker Art Center, that have, for example, stopped contracting their local police force for public events. Historically, museums have used themed exhibitions, acquisitions schemes, or public programs to signal a shift, but otherwise they continue with business as usual. Real shifts must be seen from the sidewalk to the boardroom. There is an urgent and long-standing need for long-term commitments to diverse hiring and executive leadership, divestment from the police, accessibility, and a zero-tolerance policy for racism from staff or visitors.

Of course, none of these demands are new. They’ve been introduced by the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition, the Art Workers Coalition, Women Artists in Revolution, and others since the turn of the century and before. Until changes are made, there is no volume of social media posts or public letters that could undo museums’ willing complicity in white supremacy. Here, a group of art workers share testimonials, observations, and ideas for a path forward.


ART + MUSEUM TRANSPARENCY, Workers’ collective

“At AMT we have appreciated most those who have made clear statements of intent and particularly those that have already started to follow them with concrete actions: the Walker Art Center’s immediate divestment from the MPLS P.D.; the Vera List Center’s direct connection of racial justice to labor justice within the structures of cultural organizations. Some museums have been talking about taking this moment to support and lift up those already doing this work, which we applaud but have not seen concrete action on. One way would be to redistribute wealth to museums in the Association of African American Museums, many of which operate on budgets magnitudes smaller than places like MoMA or the Met and, unlike those museums, are under existential threat from COVID-closure revenue losses. The African American Museum in Philadelphia is threatened with the loss of its entire city budget funding at the same time it reasserts its duty as ‘remind[ing] the public of the historical context of police violence against Black people.’

What comes to mind are mostly examples of cultural institutions’ failures to pivot that we wish museums would acknowledge and apologize for. The Metropolitan, for example, and its failure to learn from the intervention of the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in 1969. MoMA and its failure to learn from the intervention of the Art Workers’ Coalition during the Vietnam War. One positive example that comes to mind in this moment, and we don’t see people referencing, is that of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam during the Second World War. Under Nazi occupation, curator Willem Sandberg joined the Dutch resistance and used Stedelijk offices and equipment to print forged identity papers and plan the resistance operation to bomb a civil-records office used to identify Jewish citizens.”


THOMAS J. LAX, Curator, MoMA, New York City

“I don’t want to be part of a response that does not begin with the premise that there can be an end to white supremacy and that institutions historically organized to safeguard culture and civilization must play an active role in this struggle. We might call that a romance or a speculative fiction, but these are the genres of anti-racist work. Okwui Enwezor used to say that museums are repositories of the human imagination; Linda Goode Bryant, founder of Just Above Midtown Gallery, says that cultural institutions should be in the business of turning can’ts into cans. The Black curatorial tradition is one of radical possibilities; any claim to do otherwise under the name of Blackness is a travesty to our collective inheritance.

Within days the Public Theater installed B. Peppers’ portraits of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in the street cases in front of their building, announcing that they were offering water and bathrooms to protesters. This was the idea of a young staff member, which to me says that part of responding meaningfully to this moment is toppling the vertical order of institutional hierarchies and being willing to try out good ideas before they have time to be fully baked.

As I have listened to the chorus of demands to abolish the police grow increasingly louder, what I have heard is an analysis of how the police are not only out there—in the streets and in poor and Black communities—but in here, which is to say in our buildings and psyches. A call for divestment involves an acknowledgment of the ways that museums rely on local police departments to do the work of mental health providers and emergency medical technicians, as well as the implicit ways contracts with police departments protect property over people.

Disability activists and freedom fighters in South Africa used the slogan, ‘Nothing about us without us is for us’; the conversation must begin with prioritizing who we mean by us. And because Black people are not an indistinguishable mass or one collective unconscious, but a social formation of differing interests, agendas, and ideas, this conversation needs to be an open-ended one without fixed outcomes in order to flesh out these differences.”



“I think about the emergency of Black arts organizations in the 20th century, and I think of places that had no choice but to root themselves in community, to serve not just as cultural spaces but sites of education, political organizing and direct-action campaigns, places for childcare, and other forms of stewardship. I wonder how different our communities would look if all of our cultural institutions took seriously this type of ethos, not just in moments of crisis.

Meg Onli, associate curator at ICA Philadelphia, organized the Art for Philadelphia Community Bail Fund benefit, and I have been really energized by her effort. The benefit featured a suite of prints by seven Philly artists, with the proceeds going directly to the city’s bail fund that posts bail for individuals who are not able to do so, with the mission of ultimately ending cash bail entirely in Philly.

I want to acknowledge Visual AIDS as an important example of an organization that, to me, emerges as an artistic and political intervention. I recognize that V.A. is not an organization that ‘pivoted’ but rather came to life in the midst of the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and early 1990s. I think about just how consequential the organization’s archival work, Day Without Art initiative, and, really, the institutional spirit was/is/will always be. I think about the clear moral failings of so many, including the Reagan/Bush administrations, and how the V.A. founders and community embodied a care and a love so deep so as to ensure that the (by and large) public silences about how HIV/AIDS was disappearing an entire generation of artists would not become permanent.”


LAURA RAICOVICH, Interim director, Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York City, and author of a forthcoming book on art and protest
“There’s something that really has bugged me about a lot of the statements coming out, and it’s about listening. I think that the conversations and the demands, especially around race in the United States, have been made for so long that if you’re still on ‘listening,’ there’s a problem. You’ve got to be figuring out what to do and doing it. Obviously you have to continue to listen.”

“Right now I feel institutions with public audiences should be spaces of mobilization and organization for real and thorough change. There must be action in real time. There should be a sharing of resources. This could be mutual aid gestures, such as offering space, skillshares, sharing equipment, etc. There is also the issue of the redistribution of funds that many institutions are hoarding. When COVID-19 hit, many of these institutions were exposed for having excessive endowments. Many are hoarding funds under the guise that they will lose money, when the endowments were set up for these exact times to begin with. So there must be a redistribution of those funds to support actual efforts within the institution and on the ground.

As an artist myself, I am looking to what Black artists have produced and the efforts they made in great times of unrest. This is where the archive comes in. As an independent curator, I’m also invested right now in ensuring that my peers are able to continue to do their work now, as planned, by sharing administrative and other skills they may not possess. So many of us were hit with canceled or flat-out delayed exhibitions due to COVID-19 and are now conflicted about sharing our work. But I find it necessary and important to do so. Black artists should not stop working or presenting our work at this moment. Art is language, and for many of us that is how we process and work through the intersections of our lives.

I do not feel that it is the time for primarily white-staffed and led institutions to speak through Black artists’ works and over their Black staff. I feel they need to listen to those who have been doing this work, if they feel the capacity to share. They must accommodate those staff members’ time financially and holistically because the workplace has its own violences. Cultural institutions must understand that they will have to be reworked from the inside out. Change will not occur without conflict in the attempt to repair many years of exclusion, and institutions must care for the Black artists and staff within these spaces.”


“I appreciated MoMA’s furtive response to Trump’s entry ban of people from Muslim countries in 2017. The museum facilitated a quick rehang of their permanent collection to feature works by artists from majority-Muslim nations. This gesture was poignant because the museum responded to the state’s erasure and refusal of Muslim people and their heritage. The MoMA’s effort to respond with increased visibility of that same heritage was highly effective. I do believe, however, that the pervasiveness of anti-Black violence (that is so foundational to the making of many American museums) will require more than a curatorial shift, and rather a systemic institutional one.

I think museums should take inventory of their economic ties with U.S. police. Non-Black museum staff should not rely on the labor of their Black colleagues to tell or teach them about race and anti-Blackness. Non-Black museum workers should work to educate themselves, and ask how they perpetuate and benefit from white supremacist violence.”


LEGACY RUSSELL, Curator, the Studio Museum in Harlem

“I’ve deeply appreciated Jackie Wang, Sarah Lewis, Bryan Stevenson, Glenn Ligon, Tina Campt, Xaviera Simmons, Alexandra Bell, The White Pube (Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad), Mona Chalabi, Nina Chanel Abney, Che Gossett, and Christina Sharpe as voices always, but also right here and right now. Each in their own way is taking time to center the issues at hand as well as providing critical feedback on, and analysis of, this moment in time.

The Studio Museum in Harlem has 50-plus years of actioning on and advancing a mission of making space for artists of African descent. That is what long-term political and cultural investment looks like toward the goal of building a sustainable and creative Black future.”


HANS ULRICH OBRIST, Artistic director at the Serpentine Galleries, London

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Édouard Glissant. His activities as a poet, philosopher, public intellectual, and curator not only encompassed literary and theoretical work, but he consistently said that what matters is the production of reality. First as a member of the resistance who spoke out in favor of Martinique’s independence from France and then, from 1967 onwards, through the Institut Martiniquais d’Études, a school which was an agent for change, intervening in political issues and implementing Creole into a school system mostly dominated by French.

Later Glissant imagined and prepared a museum for Martinique, which is unrealized but remains a source of many ideas. Glissant imagined the museum as an archipelago; it would not house a synthesis but a network of interrelationships. Glissant wanted to create a museum which would not only point at urgencies but also find agency to respond to these urgencies. He imagined it to be a quivering place which transcends established systems of thoughts and which is looking for the utopian point where all the world’s cultures and all the world’s imaginations can meet and hear one another.”


“Performative gestures like social media statements in solidarity with Black life do nothing when Black staff are being treated unfairly. Yes, you have the work of a Black artist on your wall, but do you have staff that are a representation of that and can speak authentically to the cultural nuances of said work? Are that same staff equitably paid? Are they listened to and cared for? Do roles for them exist outside of educational and community engagement departments? A complete overhaul is in order that centers Black voices until museums are abolished. A lot of people won’t agree with me, but I would like to envision a future without museums and large cultural institutions. History and Black scholars have been telling us that reform is often more harmful. In the meantime, the leadership of these spaces need to be working towards equity and better working conditions for Black staff.

I would encourage folks to find the small, local, Black-led cultural spaces in their own communities. Black people have been creating space for ourselves in lieu of a continuous hellish political landscape. The Transgender District in San Francisco was founded by three Black trans women in 2017 and is the first legally recognized transgender district in the world. Rainbow Sign, founded by Mary Ann Pollar in Berkeley, California, was a cultural hub during its operation from 1970 to 1977. East Oakland Youth Development Center is another Black-woman-led cultural space for youth in East Oakland that’s been in operation since 1978.”

How MGS is speaking up for civic museums

This article was first published by Museums Galleries Scotland

Joe Traynor, Head of Programmes and Partnerships at Museums Galleries Scotland, writes about the work MGS has been doing to advocate for Civic museums during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since the beginning of lockdown in March, Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has been actively engaging with our museum and galleries friends and colleagues throughout Scotland and beyond. We have mobilised to ensure that we can help as many museums and galleries as we possibly can survive through this unprecedented period.   

Our CEO, Lucy, has maintained constant dialogue with Scottish Government colleagues to present the urgent case for the sector – supported by the gathering of information through surveys and dialogue with museums and industry groups. 

We know that many of our colleagues in Local Authorities and Trusts are extremely concerned about the future. Civic museums have been among the hardest hit by lockdown, with most still unable to open and others operating at reduced capacity. We also know that for many, the decision to open your venues doesn’t always rest with you. 

The Scottish Government’s support for independent museums, through our Recovery and Resilience Fund, was hugely welcome – and we as an organisation have pivoted to ensure that we provide maximum help and support. But we know that our work isn’t done.  

We are making the case as to ensure that you are given the security to survive this difficult financial year. Museums and galleries have lost significant income, as well as facing uncertainties around the health of staff and volunteers, anxiety about returning audiences and how to engage with them, and many other issues which have become part of day to day life. 

Looking beyond that immediate crisis, we are working with others to look at the funding arrangements for local authority and trust museums and galleries 

As non-statutory services, we know that civic museums face an uncertain future as the local government finance situation becomes clearer and budgets begin to be set for next financial year.  We also know, that although civic museums may be classed as “discretionary spending,” they aren’t optional extras. They include some of Scotland’s most significant visitor attractions and are at the heart of our tourist economy and cultural life. For many of our communities, they are key to Place and represent cultural identity. 

Civic museums undertake a huge range of work with schools and volunteers, as well as those people that could be disenfranchised without our help; the lonely, those with dementia or mental illness, those with chronic pain, parents who meet others through our activities, students that work with the collections we care for, in short; museums are deeply embedded in our community life and we represent a significant part of the story of Scotland. 

We’ve been engaging with government and parliament to ensure that message is heard. Our Chief Executive appeared as a witness at the Scottish Parliament’s Culture Committee to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, we have submitted further evidence to the Local Government Committee’s consultation on COVID-19 and local government finances.  

All of this work is informed by our discussions with you, including our new civic museums working group which met for the first time earlier this month. If you are involved in the sector, please get in touch if you want to highlight any issues or concerns.  We want to work with you to shout about your achievements and the impact that you have, and we want to support you to do it for yourselves. 

Preserving the Cultural Heritage of Armenia

Ani Avagyan, Director of the ROCHEMP Center for Cultural Heritage in Armenia spoke about the importance of the preservation of historic districts in contemporary global cities, the importance of properly restoring and preserving tangible cultural heritage and how education is the key.

Listen to the 34 minute podcast at

Iran, Ireland national museums discuss ways to broaden ties

This article was first published by the Tehran Times

National Museum of Iran Director Jebrael Nokandeh and his Irish counterpart Lynn Scarff held a virtual meeting on Wednesday in which they exchanged views on a roadmap to define long-term cooperation.

Holding joint exhibitions, workshops, and specialized meetings, as well as sharing experience and exchanging experts were amongst issues raised in the meeting, public relations of the Tehran museum told the Tehran Times on Friday.

Scarff also highlighted collections of Iranian works that are being kept at the National Museum of Ireland, relics that date from the Sassanid period onwards.

The National Museum of Ireland is Ireland’s leading museum institution, with a strong emphasis on national and some international archaeology, Irish history, Irish art, culture, and natural history. It has three branches in Dublin and one in County Mayo.

The National Museum of Iran embraces priceless relics that represent various eras of the country’s rich history. Its structure was completed in 1928 based on the design by French architect André Godard who was also an archaeologist and historian of French and Middle Eastern Art.


ICOM statement of solidarity with Lebanon and support to recover the damaged cultural heritage in Beirut

The International Council of Museums, together with 26 other institutions of the international heritage community, has signed a declaration of solidarity with Lebanon, committing itself to supporting recovery efforts.

We wish to express our solidarity with the Lebanese people for the tragedy that has struck the city of Beirut. We are saddened by these events and we send our condolences for the loss of lives and our shared concern for the scale of material destruction.

As members and practitioners of the heritage protection community, we have worked for decades alongside the Lebanese people to safeguard and preserve the nation’s unique cultural heritage. We remain by your side to continue our collective work during these challenging times.

Damaged libraries, museums, and historic buildings will require cultural first aid and longer-term recovery interventions. Their collections will need urgent protection and salvaging. We pledge to do all that we can to contribute to the complete recovery of the heritage that has been damaged in Beirut by this blast.

In full solidarity,

Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (Bahrain), ArcHerNet (Germany), Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Bahrain), BlueShield International, British Council Managed UK Cultural Protection Fund (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine – Ecole de Chaillot (France), Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), EUROPA NOSTRA – The European Voice of Civil Society committed to Cultural Heritage, Fondation nationale des musées (Morocco), Global Heritage Fund (United States of America), Honor Frost Foundation (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO), Institut national du patrimoine (France), International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH), International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), International Council of Museums (ICOM), Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), Ministry of Culture of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MUCEM) (France), Musée du Louvre (France), Musée national du Mali (Mali), National Museum of China (China), Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development (the Netherlands), Rempart (France), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Monuments Fund (United States of America).

CLICK HERE to download the declaration

DCMS Museums and Galleries Sector Coronavirus Bulletin 15 Sept 2020

Below is a link to download the latest PDF coronavirus bulletin from DCMS for the museums and galleries sector, containing links to government information and advice, including:

  • Rule of 6 – COVID-19 Secure venues (including museums and galleries) can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.
  • NHS Test and Trace – mandatory for venues to record data from 18 September
  • NHS Test and Trace – QR codes being rolled out.