MuseumWeek 2017 – Expanding and Engaging across the Globe

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© UNESCO
26 July 2017

MuseumWeek2017 met with wide success as museum participation increased by 28% from the 2016 edition.  Focusing on the theme of “women and culture” and supported by UNESCO, Fondation CHANEL and the non-profit organization Culture For Causes Network, MuseumWeek2017 is a worldwide event relating to museums on social networks. According to the statistics, 4,505 participants from 95 countries celebrated the event, which took place from 19 to 25 June 2017.  

Among the most active countries in terms of registration were Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  People around the world engaged as well, with 81,000 posts made on various social media platforms, gathering over 1.6 million “shares” and some 43,000 comments.

Mechtild Rössler, Director of Heritage Division and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, was asked three questions for MuseumWeek2017:

1. Why is MuseumWeek important for UNESCO?

Museums do more than just display precious objects. In our globalized and digitized world, they serve as important social learning and knowledge sharing spaces, among different populations, generations and publics. They have a huge potential to foster sustainable development and intercultural dialogue, and many of them are environmentally conscious and advocate for sustainable ways of living.  MuseumWeek gathers cultural institutions from across the globe, demonstrating their will to expose and share culture with many audiences through modern media.

We constantly strive to come up with new and creative ideas to promote museums amongst our Member States, partners and public. Our collaboration with MuseumWeek is one such endeavor to expand the celebration of culture, bring communities together, and share contents, stories, facts and experiences in many languages.

Moreover, this year the event focused on women and culture as its central theme. What could be better than the UN striving to promote gender equality?

2. What is UNESCO’s involvement with museums?

Being the sole UN agency specializing in cultural matters, UNESCO considers museums to be one of its most important allies in fulfilling its fundamental missions, such as the preservation of heritage and the promotion of cultural diversity, education for all, sustainability of the planet, and social integration and cohesion. We are capitalizing on our vast network of Field Offices, partner institutions including ICOM and Member States, to boost museums’ contemporary missions, as stated in the most recent global guidelines on the roles of museums, the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, their Diversity and their Role in Society. This Recommendation underscores the social role of museums and, inter alia, it says that museums should foster respect for human rights and gender equality.

3. How do you see the future of museums worldwide?

In a word: transformative. Museums are major social motors and are contributing in numerous ways to sustainable development – for example, through wider dissemination of cultural and environmental knowledge, opportunities for social dialogue and exchange of views, cultural tourism and employment. The recent edition of the World Heritage Review dedicated to Museums portrays their immense diversity and potential to better understand World Heritage sites. UNESCO will continue to support valuable initiatives to strengthen museum’s social roles, by providing technical support for the establishment and refurbishment of national museums in developing countries, specific training on museum management, and policy advice on national legislation review and improvement. The preparedness against human-made and natural disaster is another important issue for many museums, given the circumstances in conflict and natural disaster areas.

Museums will also continue a rapid evolution with ICTs in terms of their communication and outreach, accessibility, research, collections etc…. UNESCO will be fully engaged in the important reflection on the role of ICTs in the work of museums, for example in considering new ethical dimensions relating to the digitalization of intellectual contents, and the reproduction of artworks by means of various advanced technological resources.