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MUSEUM International N°224
Partnerships - A successful paradigm? Joint issue with CONSERVATION, the Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter

Cover224-home.gifTable of Contents

Editorial Defining partnership in heritage and museum field

Museum Stories

A paradigm in a period of cultural transition

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Editorial  Tim Whalen, Director of the Getty Conservation Institute and Mounir Bouchenaki Assistant Director General for Culture, UNESCO

The principle of collective responsibility for the protection and conservation of cultural heritage forms the basis of international cooperative efforts to preserve that heritage. Partnerships among cultural heritage organizations, which have gained increasing legitimacy from a number of successful projects such as the recent reconstruction of the Mostar bridge in Bosnia, include a wide variety of participants and public-private collaborations. As heritage conservation becomes more complicated—sometimes involving development issues such as urban expansion and poverty reduction, as well as the preservation of identities, specifically for indigenous peoples—the partnership concept becomes all the more appealing, as well as complex.
It is in this context that partnerships have developed between UNESCO and its affiliated organizations and programs of the J. Paul Getty Trust. One project, Object ID, set up an international standard of information for the documentation and identification of objects in order to facilitate the rapid transfer of information in case of theft. Initiated by the Getty, it was established through the participation of the art trade, law enforcement, the insurance industry, and major heritage organizations, and is now managed by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which was founded by UNESCO and remains affiliated with it (see icom.museum/objectid). Sharing information worldwide is a form of partnership that goes beyond selective actions and represents a change in the état-d’esprit: it builds a common ethical ground.
A second project is also emblematic of change. The creation of the top-level Internet domain (TLD), “.museum”, in November 2000, resulted from the foresight and dedication of Getty and ICOM staff. UNESCO embraces and values the creation of the only sponsored TLD for cultural heritage, in view of its long commitment to place culture at the top of international agendas and its advocacy of initiatives that advance knowledge societies. At the same time, UNESCO encourages the significant participation of conservation research and operational institutes, such as the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), in partnerships that promote sustainable conservation approaches for cultural heritage.
Partnership is an essential element of project work at the GCI. The leadership of the Getty Trust recognized early on that appropriate partnerships offered an effective way to leverage limited resources, as well as—and equally important—to expand the scope of the conservation community. In scientific research, no single institution can possibly address the diversity of questions posed by conservation problems. Even investigations of single issues benefit from the variety of perspectives and facilities that are possible in collaborative endeavors. The GCI has valuable partnerships with a variety of public and private institutions, studying questions related to modern paint materials, exhibition lighting of old master drawings, organic materials used in wall paintings, and variations in early photographic processes. In field projects, every GCI project has involved a partnership, usually with the agency or institution that is responsible for the heritage that is the subject of the project. Building a relationship of mutual understanding and trust—and shared objectives and responsibility—requires as much attention as addressing the particular conservation problems afflicting a site. Without such a relationship, a project will not succeed.
By “partnering” our two publications—MUSEUM International and Conservation, The GCI Newsletter—on the subject of partnership, we hope to illuminate the varieties, value, and power of partnership in the heritage and conservation field, to distinguish where partnership is valuable and where it is not, and to emphasize partnership as a critical element of institutional work and policy. Beyond advancing the specific work of preservation and conservation, partnerships, by bringing different parties together for a common objective, contribute to the overarching goal of increased human understanding.

Stari Most: Rebuilding more than a Historic Bridge in Mostar Maha Armaly Carlo Blasi and Lawrence Hanna
An extraordinary partnership of local residents, national leaders and the international community (the World Bank, UNESCO, the Aga Khan Trust, and the World Monuments Fund) oversaw the reconstruction of the historic city of Mostar. Today after long years of conflict, the Stari Most stands again, as a symbol of reconciliation and solidarity. TOP

The UNDP’s Commitment to Defend Cultural Diversity with UNESCO Mark Malloch Brown
The paper pays tribute to the collaboration between UNDP and UNESCO in the framework of Cultural Diversity. Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP administrator considers the conditions required to achieve full human development a stage further and argues that political emancipation, along with social and economic participation as citizens is still not enough. He suggests that cultural diversity is a key factor for this success. Citizens everywhere must have the right to seek their own personal fulfilment through the ability to preserve, respect and honour what differentiates them, the issues important to them and their own sense of identity in terms of their ethnic backgrounds, their cultural backgrounds, their cultural identity including obviously their sense of religious identity as well.

Conservation Partnerships in the Commons? Sharing data and information, experience and knowledge, as the essence of partnerships? Thomas Daniel Moritz
Sharing of data and information, experience and knowledge, is the essence of partnerships.  The Conservation Commons is a new global paradigm – that addresses cultural, legal, economic and technical barriers to sharing in the environmental conservation community.  The Conservation Commons is  developing under the leadership of IUCN (The World Conservation Union) and resonates closely with many other global initiatives that, in combination, are producing a global knowledge commons. TOP

Cooperation between UNESCO and Japan in the safeguarding of cultural heritage Tsukasa Kawada and Nao Hayashi-Denis
Japan has been one of the most important partners of UNESCO in all its mandatory fields of action since it joined the Organization in 1951.  For over half a century this partnership has yielded many fruitful results. In what respects can this partnership be leveraged for further action in the global context, while ensuring that both parties’ interests are met? The answers to these questions lie in Japan’s willingness to share its experiences of development with countries facing similar difficulties in their development efforts and in UNESCO’s long-term objective of multilateral cooperation. 

A debated museum concept: Partnership in Universality Geoffrey Lewis
The idea of universality can be found at the heart of the first public museums. A product of world exploration and developing global trade among the maritime nations of Western Europe, these museums reflected the spirit of enquiry and enterprise of their age.  Since then some museums have endeavoured to emulate these pioneering institutions, albeit in different circumstances and for different reasons. In fact it has raised a fundamental debate about the role of museums in the twenty-first century. TOP

Partnership for restitution of Jewish Cultural Property in the Czech Republic: principle and reality Pavel Jirásek
Restitution, and restitution processes, are an issue which has to be faced, whether they like it or not, by many institutions keeping collections of art objects, both in the Czech Republic and the world. There is an eternal conflict between the basic mission of museums, namely to preserve the cultural heritage for future generations and the principle of recognition of ownership rights of certain entities, be they legal entities or natural persons, from whom such cultural goods had been seized or whom historical circumstances had forced to take such steps as they would never have taken in a normal situation.

The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal: Collaboration Creates a New Tool for Museums and Researchers Helen Wechsler and Erik Ledbetter
The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal provides a searchable registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi era (1933-1945).  People seeking objects can use the Portal to refine their search. Museums can join the Portal to fulfill their responsibility to make Nazi-era provenance information centrally accessible to the public.  Designed and funded through collaboration among museums, government, professional associations, and Holocaust survivors’ representatives, the Portal is managed by the American Association of Museums.

International collaborations with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) Geneviève Gallot
Through various international collaborations with clearly defined goals, the Institut National du Patrimoine places its training programmes and projects firmly in a context of exchange and ouverture which have been shown to be indispensable to cultural heritage professions. The article browses through various projects in Albania, Benin, China and Morocco.

The Pan-African Museum of Music: the Need for Partnership Ferréol Constant Patrick Gassackys
The Pan-African Museum of Music is one of the African Union’s projects. It is the shared creation of African specialists and is integrated into the network of African museums through close collaboration made up of exchanged exhibitions, partnerships in fields of training, museographic and museological research and the shared organization of workshops, seminars and conferences. The text examines how partnerships offer several advantages for the development of museums in Africa.

A new partnership: indigenous peoples and the United Nations system A New Partnership: indigenous peoples and the United Nations system Judith P. Zinsser
The article demonstrates how indigenous issues have come to the attention of the United Nations, how their concerns are defined, validated and acted upon. The story of indigenous peoples and the Unites Nations shows the interaction between the international community and national governments on human rights violation. Most important, it shows the ways in which humanitarian groups and the various parts of the United Nations work to redress grievances and to guarantee fundamental freedoms for all peoples.

Partnerships in the heritage of the displaced Denis Byrne
The global heritage conservation community’s decision to take seriously the category of intangible heritage has major implications for our partnership with indigenous minorities and displaced people generally. The author  accommodates, as a form of heritage, the life experiences of indigenous minorities living in colonized landscapes. These events and the relating of them are a significant part of Aboriginal folklore, as are the stories, particularly from the 1970s, of how individuals defied boundaries in segregated picture theatres and the previously racially bounded space of white bars and discos. He argues that all these experiences are spatial and therefore eminently mappable as heritage. TOP

Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples on the Development Gateway Charlotte Moser
The Development Gateway portal (www.developmentgateway.org)  builds online communities around indigenous issues hence providing important insights into how ICT can be most effective in fighting poverty through knowledge-sharing. But, if there is any hope that “digital bridges” will transport indigenous people out of poverty, partnerships will be a key to laying a solid foundation for building supportive new “virtual villages.” TOP

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