PARIS, FRANCE.-The International Council of Museums (ICOM) held "Museums and Universal Heritage" as the theme for International Museum Day 2007, celebrated the week of Friday, 18th of May in museums throughout the world. ICOM's 23,000 individual and institutional members in 145 countries are especially encouraged to participate most actively this year with special events ranging from music, dance and theatre performances to special exhibitions of art from the reserves, and free entrance, sometimes both day and night.
The message for International Museum Day is pertinent: "We are all responsible for universal heritage". Alissandra Cummins , President of ICOM explains:"This year, more than ever, we need to raise consciousness about the role of museums in teaching individual and collective responsibility for global heritage."
"ICOM's International Museum Day has high purpose in promoting access to museum collections to focus on how cultural diversity and universal heritage go hand in hand. ICOM is inviting the world's museums and their communities to show how, as a member of a family, neighborhood, tribe, nation, ethnic group or religion, and as public citizens, on all levels, we are separately and together responsible for sharing and protecting our respective and common heritage."
For ICOM, universal heritage means both natural and cultural heritage, the tangible objects that make up collections as well as the intangible discourses, knowledge, and creative expressions that accompany these. As per the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, museums are responsible for preserving and promoting this heritage. In short, ICOM's answer to globalization is encouraging a new universal responsibility for heritage in all its culturally diverse expressions.
Director of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, Vice-Chairperson of the International Advisory Committee of the Memory of the World Programme and former Chairperson of Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP), Cummins adds:
"ICOM has been partnering with UNESCO since its inception 60 years ago, because this intergovernmental organisation was the first to recognize just how important NGO's representing civil society are in implementing its cultural, educational, and scientific development programmes to alleviate the root causes of war, poverty and ignorance. This is why ICOM supports UNESCO's Conventions and has done good work through museums to promote "Intangible Heritage" since 2004. Now, with the "Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions" which went into effect on 18 March, we see how on the 18th of May, International Museum Day, and at the ICOM General Conference in Vienna in August, we can show the link between diversity and universality all over the world."
Visiting museums on International Museum Day is a sure way to participate in celebrating 40,000 years of diverse human creativity and join the pledge to universal heritage.