EU-LAC-MUSEUMS Horizon2020 project (2016-2020)


Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean







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:  []. 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 (

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 [].

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 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 []. 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.”

John Paterson Artwork SFC project

The Museums, Galleries and Collections Institute (MGCI) at the University of St Andrews has been awarded a grant under the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation Voucher Scheme (Workforce Innovation) to work with the Seaboard Memorial Hall Ltd in Balintore, Easter Ross.

The project is to develop a workforce plan for a Heritage Community Centre, identifying the new skills and expertise that will be required for the successful and sustainable operation of the organisation. The centre will be based on the extensive and exceptional collection of paintings and business memorabilia of John Paterson (1872-1945) and will serve the local community and attract new tourism to the area.

Paterson was born in Rosemarkie in the Black Isle and died in Hilton of Cadboll on the Fearn Peninsula.  He was a fishing station owner and amateur artist.   Because of the restricted salmon fishing season, Paterson was able to devote winter months to his painting hobby in the studios he built on the foreshore. Over 200 paintings survive, many being portraits of local people who modelled for him. The fishing business which sustained the local community no longer exists but a wealth of related material: nets, fish boxes, fishing records, maps, and other memorabilia have been kept by the family.  These will form the core collection for the heritage centre.

The Innovation Voucher Scheme is administered, on behalf of the SFC, by Interface, which connects businesses to academics in Scotland’s universities or further education colleges to support innovation to develop a new product, process or service for the company or to develop the company’s workforce.


Community Crafts and Culture SFC GCRF project

Community Crafts and Culture: Empowering indigenous communities for a sustainable future.


The “Community Crafts and Culture” is working within the indigenous communities of Costa Rica; Boruca, Rey Curre and San Vicente to support them in promoting their arts and crafts to raise awareness of their culture and way of life. The project builds upon existing partnerships in the community museums of Costa Rica to strengthen existing indigenous systems of organisation and communal work, making them more resilient to the homogenising forces of globalisation and unethical development.

The project is working in partnership with Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, ICOM Costa Rica, ICOM-LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) and the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Coordinated by the Museum, Galleries and Collection Institute (MGCI) in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews.

For further information, please email or visit

Past Projects

The Institute has undertaken commissioned research and consultancy work relating to the museum and gallery sector.


One strand of MGCI research concerns “Community Heritage”, where members of a community act voluntarily to safeguard heritage outside formal structures and state support. Such collective activity is essential for the wellbeing of societies, their sense of place and identity. The role of Intangible Cultural Heritage is becoming increasingly recognised for its intergenerational role in the promotion of cultural understanding and cohesion.

While working towards a common understanding of “Community Heritage” in Scotland, we define it in line with the Council of Europe Framework on Cultural Heritage.

Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society  – Faro, 27.X.2005


Article 2 – Definitions


For the purposes of this Convention,


cultural heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time;

a heritage community consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations.


Article 3 – The common heritage of Europe


The Parties agree to promote an understanding of the common heritage of Europe, which consists of:


all forms of cultural heritage in Europe which together constitute a shared source of remembrance, understanding, identity, cohesion and creativity, and

the ideals, principles and values, derived from the experience gained through progress and past conflicts, which foster the development of a peaceful and stable society, founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Article 4 – Rights and responsibilities relating to cultural heritage


The Parties recognise that:


everyone, alone or collectively, has the right to benefit from the cultural heritage and to contribute towards its enrichment;

everyone, alone or collectively, has the responsibility to respect the cultural heritage of others as much as their own heritage, and consequently the common heritage of Europe;

exercise of the right to cultural heritage may be subject only to those restrictions which are necessary for a democratic society for the protection of the public interest and the rights and freedoms of others.

Community Heritage Scotland


Community Heritage Scotland is a new project which aims to explore the ways in which people work and engage with heritage in their communities, while also aiming to bring about positive change in a sector which is not without its challenges.


The project has been a partnership between the consultancies of Ergadia Museums and Heritage and Northlight Heritage, in collaboration with the Museums Galleries and Collections Institute at the University of St Andrews.


The project has been generously supported by Historic Environment Scotland, with additional funding from Museums Galleries Scotland, Association for Independent Museums, and the University of St Andrews.


The core work of the project was a survey and discussion event, out of which have grown the four documents here:

Community Heritage Survey – online questionnaire analysis(PDF, 2,089 KB)
Community Heritage Scotland discussion document(PDF, 2,484 KB)
CHS summary and Next Steps(PDF, 260 KB)

The project is now moving into the next phase, and the team are keen to hear from anyone who wishes to be involved, join our email database, or expand their research in any way. Please email Catherine Gillies on

UPDATE, 16 August 2018

CHS – Going Forward in Oban

Booking is now open for the next discussion day which will be held in Oban on Saturday 15th September, as we begin to fulfil our promise of taking the conversation to heritage communities around Scotland (so if Oban feels too far to travel, just sit tight
and we’ll get to you).

Each time we move, we will share the event with a local project or organisation, and bring something new to the discussion while also covering the core questions.

The University of St Andrews MGCI SFC GCRF Community Crafts and Cultures project is contributing sponsorship to this Oban event where we will be co-hosting with CHArts, who are delivering a major regional networking and development project for culture, heritage and the arts in Argyll. We are also delighted to welcome Samuel Franco from Guatemala who, along with Dr Karen Brown and Jamie Allan Brown from the University of St Andrews, will open a window on the very active heritage networks of Latin America.

Marketplace/information space: We have two rooms booked at Rockfield, with one being given over to space for information banners and leaflet tables. Please feel free to bring materials, and contact me to talk about how much space you need for stands. There is a theme of crafts through our Latin American connections, so spinners and other crafts folk please bring samples of your work or a wee demonstration. Samuel is also a specialist in Mayan music and intangible heritage, so bring a tune or a story for lunchtime!

Tickets are on Eventbrite at this link:

Tickets are free but in short supply; please only book as many spaces as you need, and PLEASE let us know if you need to cancel so someone else can have your space. Lunch is provided.


Publication by Museums Galleries Scotland of information sheets commissioned from MGCI

“Undertaking Collections Research In-house”

“Preparing your museum to receive and facilitate external researchers”


Guidance Fact Sheets wrote for Museums Galleries Scotland relating to collections research methods

June 2005-March 2006

Barns-Graham Trust Inventory Project

April 2005

Evaluation Report for The Distributed National Burns Collection. A Strategic Change Fund Project funded by the Scottish Museums Council.