EU-LAC-MUSEUMS is an international research project funded by Horizon 2020 – the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever. Our research falls under the Call “Europe as a Global Actor – INT12 (2013-14) – The cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU-LAC relations”, and our aim is to build close connections between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in the field of community museology. Our project will run from 2016-2020.
Our international consortium consists of eight partners working in academia, the museum world, and policy in Scotland, Portugal, Spain, France, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and the West Indies. For information on each of us, click here: [http://eulacmuseums.net/index.php/partnership-2/partners-2]. The project is Coordinated by MGCI in the School of Art History, the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and was conceived and continues to be supported by the networks of ICOM-Europe and ICOM-LAC, whose Presidents serve on our project Steering Committee (http://www.icom.museum)
What is our Research About?
“Museums are important because they serve to remind us of who we are and what our place is in the world. […] Museum professionals, with reference to their visitors, frequently use the expression ‘museum community’, but can this be defined? We also need to discover how museums interact with their community, and the community with its museums, and place this in historical perspective.”
(Peter Davis, “Place Exploration: museums, identity, community”, in Watson, S. ed., Museums and Their Communities. London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp.53-75; 53)
Museums hold an unequalled responsibility to communicate the shared history and “cultural, political and economic ties” between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Museums have an enormous capacity to reach all levels of community, from towns to remote villages, and can be neutral spaces for building social cohesion and reconciliation in a variety of contexts. Together, our research teams will determine commonalities and share best practice across regions. By focusing on the theme of Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will create a common vision for sustainable, small to medium-sized local and regional museums and their communities, and reinforce mutual understanding and cooperation between regions.
EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will achieve this goal by pursuing work packages dealing with the cross-cutting societal challenges of:
a) “Technology and Innovation for Bi-Regional Integration”;
b) “Museum Education for Social Inclusion and Cohesion”;
c) “Investment and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Museums”, and
d) “Exhibiting Migration and Gender”.
In so doing, we will push forward the agenda of the EU-CELAC Action Plan in museum practice and theory [http://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/pdf/policy/eu-celac_action_plan_2015.pdf].
One of the research outputs by the University of St Andrews already completed are remote community workshops for 3D and spherical technologies, in collaboration with Open Virtual Worlds in Computer Science. Some 170 objects from 9 EU-LAC countries have been digitised in 3 dimensions. See eu-lac3D.org. For example, in Jamaica Dr Karen Brown and EU-LAC PhD student Kate Keohane worked with the Maroons Community in Charlestown to teach them how to create 360-degree panoramas of their museum and historic landscape.
Another major part of St Andrews’ research contribution is a collaboration with the University of the West Indies on the topic of Caribbean Art and Migration, including publications and a touring international art exhibition. Dr Catherine Spencer and Kate Keohane are actively involved in this component alongside MGCI Director, Dr Karen Brown. This collaboration will be strengthened during Dr Brown Visiting Professorship in the next academic year.
The 30 international researchers and museum professionals involved in EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will meet in late November 2017 for their first annual meeting and review. On this occasion, we hosted two symposia. One was on the topic of “The Politics of the Venice Biennale” on Friday 24 November [http://arthist.net/archive/15012]. The other was on “Defining the Museum of the 21st Century”, and held on Saturday 25 November.
The conference formed part of an international movement to find a new ICOM Definition of the Museum, commencing in La Sorbonne Novelle in Paris, June 2017. All staff of the Museum and Gallery Studies programme, including Dr Karen Brown, Ann Gunn, Dr Ulrike Weiss and Nicôle Meehan, enjoyed hosting this international event and surrounding debates.
On Saturday evening, Youth Programme Worker Jamie Brown also organised our EU-LAC Youth Award ceremony in Upper College Hall for the young people who have successfully engaged in the cultural exchange with Costa Rica and Portugal. The first Scottish EU-LAC Youth blog is now live!
Museum Education for Social Inclusion and Cohesion
Concept and Approach
In this section of our project, we aim “to promote the Horizon2020 goal of fostering inclusive, innovative and reflective societies” by researching state-of-the-art initiatives in museums and community empowerment and then move beyond these initiatives to implement and evaluate our own innovative bi-regional community education project. Our aim is to both transform individual lives within museum communities and to create a method of implementation and evaluation that will be applicable to wider regions. Herein we focus on museum education, involving academic research into community museology, an intergenerational bi-regional museum education programme, and implementing a bi-regional youth exchange programme. It seeks to answer the following key questions in community museology:
How can we define “community museums” and “sustainability” in the bi-regional context?
What are the most important changes our small-scale museum communities are experiencing in EU and LAC?
What are the most cutting edge initiatives of museums to promote social inclusion and cohesion in each region? How can small-scale regional museums gain agency in promoting best practice amongst museums and policymakers on a global stage?
We invite you to participate in a research survey about the scope and perception of the concept of ‘community museum’
Our overarching aim is to understand the concept in different contexts, and the study will conclude with a publically-accessible report containing the anonymised data, including quotations, but excluding any personal information supplied by the respondents. We are interested in both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. We are interested in both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. As defined by UNESCO:
“Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.”
“Societal challenges can lead to opportunities if approached in the right way. Europe is currently undergoing a crisis of identity, seeking to define its past, present, and future position in relation to the wider world, and to consolidate regional cohesion across generations within a wider, global knowledge economy. EU-LAC-MUSEUMS, ICOM Europe and ICOM LAC are committed to the idea that fostering inter-cultural dialogue and creativity through their regional and community museums is fundamental to this process.”
(Dr Karen Brown, EU-LAC-MUSEUMS Project Coordinator
You can find out more here.