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  ICME Newsletter 36, December 2003


  • ICME PAPERS 2003


Dear ICME members:

<h4>The 2003 conference</h4>

At the moment of writing, it is still 2003. The ICME conference of 2003 in Sibiu, Romania was another successful event, with fascinating papers and open and lively discussions. The setting was perfect for a discussion of the preservation of cultural traditions in a contemporary setting: what should be the role of museums? We had our sessions at the ASTRA open air museum, a museum that acts as a forum for living, rural traditions that nevertheless are becoming marginalized and "folklorified".

How important is it for the identity of a nation that such traditions are still enacted? For a Western European questions like these seem hardly relevant, since rural traditions of this kind disappeared as living ones many, many decades ago and the discussion is rather: How do we use old traditions in hybrid versions together with modern expressions and traditions from other parts of the world? But for many parts of Eastern Europe (and may I add: many other parts of the world) there is a real, rapid and dramatic change taking place NOW, creating a sense of alarm that is highly understandable.

Of course there was no agreement, neither among the participants in general, nor among the Romanians. Which is as it should be.

Thanks in innumerable ways to the staff of the Astra museum complex in Sibiu, with special thanks to the director Dr. Corneliu Bucur and our guardian angels Remus Iancu and Isabella Miclos. Thanks also to the staff of the museums that we visited, the Romanian colleagues and the participants from other parts of the world. For us non-Romanians, the experience was unique and inspiring.

<h4>The 2004 conference</h4>

AND it was a good prelude to ICOM's general conference in Seoul in the first week of October 2004, where the theme is intangible heritage. Several of the ICME 2003 papers touched on the concept of intangible heritage, among others, Daniel Winfree Papuga's paper "Preserving intangibility: Who, What, Where?" (available on the ICME2003 web site)

I urge as many as possible to come to Korea. They have a distinct and fascinating culture, beautiful and very modern museums and it is a special opportunity to experience a country that is undeservedly a bit outside the common tourist routes. Our specially appointed host in Seoul is the new and large National Folk Museum of Korea, and we can be sure to be received as special guests of honour.

There is every reason to believe that that the conference in Seoul is going to be special. We are working on a detailed programme that we will present to you in the next issue.

I hope we can have a pre-debate on the ICME-L about intangible heritage before as many as possible of us meet in Seoul.

<h4>The future of ICME</h4>

Going into my last year as president of ICME, I would like to re-raise the debate on ICME's future. I asked: Should ICME be dissolved?

The answer to that question was a massive NO! from all over ICME. Let me re-phrase my question: Should ICME be re-defined? I must honestly say that I am not sure what to conclude myself.

The problem is that it is really tough work for every ICME conference to attract participants from outside the host country. Every time I wonder whether there will be more than ten. Generally we end up with 10 to 17-18, sometimes a little bit into the twenties. This is in contrast to the quality of the conferences: We raise important issues, the papers are excellent, discussions are really fruitful and open.

But it is a fact that the concept of museums of "ethnography" is a loose one - it can be almost any kind of museum - and the expectations of what we are, varies considerably from country to country. Like in Mexico where what we in western Europe would call The ethnographic museum were not even invited to our conference because it was not seen in Mexico as "ethnographic". No harm done - we had a very good conference in Mexico - but it illustrates how differently concepts like ethnographic, ethnologic, anthropologic, folkloric, etc, etc, etc. can be used. 

And to illustrate the confusion furthermore: ICR, the international committee for regional museums seem to have as members the "folk museums" (museums dealing with their own culture) of western Europe, while ICME seem to have as members the same kind of museums from Eastern Europe. Can this partly be because studies of your own culture in Western Europe is often called ethnology, while it is called ethnography in the East? ICME's members in Western Europe are to a large extent museums for foreign cultures, which in the West is called ethnographic and in the East called ethnologic.

Now, it must be said that the difference between these two kinds of museums in the modern multicultural society is getting less and less significant. Parts of us will all be multicultural after a while. I will come back to that.

It seems to me that the smaller, thematically more focused international committees of ICOM attract a larger number of international participants to their yearly conferences and it is easier for them to enjoy the continuity from year to year of a broad, but nevertheless well-focused theme. This is my impression, and I must confess that this impression is not based on real research.

<h4>Let me present a thought: </h4>

What if ICME redefined itself to be The international committee dealing with cultural diversity? To become for instance "ICCD" - International Committee for Cultural Diversity. Not a committee for a specific type of museums, but for the issue/theme of cultural diversity. It would include museum professionals working with cultural diversity in museums dealing with their own culture(s), in museums dealing with cultures from all over the world (like in the former colonial museums), in museums taking up the aspect of cultural diversity as a side theme, in museums working on cross-cultural understanding, even - as we discussed in Romania this year - taking up the theme of what constitutes the worthy roots of a modern nation, seeing cultures of the past and present as expressions of cultural diversity. The concept of cultural diversity sometimes also includes gender questions, sexuality, class, accessibility, etc. And themes such as illicit traffic and repatriation should be important, because it has to do with the ownership of one's cultural difference.

An "ICCD" (or CDC or ?) would be more focused and it would be easier to have a natural continuity of themes. I also think it would attract quite a few active new members.

We would of course loose many members. Many would go to ICR, which I think would be good for ICR. And to others. But the number of members on a list is far less important than the number of active members. Admittedly, with fewer members, we will get less money from ICOM centrally since they pay pr. member, but I do think that would be a passing problem.

This is a thought. Part of me (perhaps most of me) thinks this thought is good.

What do you think?

Per B. Rekdal

ICME President


<h3>ICME 2004 - CALL FOR PAPERS</h3>

The ICME 2004 sessions in Seoul, Korea will be held on October 4-6, 2004, during the middle three days of the ICOM general conference. ICME welcomes presentations discussing the main conference theme "Museums and Intangible Heritage".


UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as "embracing all forms of traditional and popular or folk culture, i.e. collective works originating in a given community and based on tradition. They include oral traditions, customs, languages, music, dance, rituals, festivities...". These traditions may be manifested either through forms of cultural expression, or as cultural spaces which bring together various cultural activities. A focus on intangible cultural heritage must focus on social contexts, showing traditional and popular culture as life-ways, sets of interrelationships and shared knowledge systems.

This is a focus which ethnology, anthropology and other fields have long had as their research goal. But how much of this is reflected in our ethnographic collections and exhibitions? Are we merely documenting and exhibiting objects, or are we showing how living traditions are formed, evolve and perhaps die out?

<h4>Call for papers on "Museums and Intangible Heritage"</h4>

ICME invites papers on the main theme, or any of the following sub-themes, as well as suggestions for additional themes:

  • Diversity and intangible heritage: (both in regard for ethnicity, and for differences between rural and urban traditions)
  • Intangible change: Should we "conserve" heritage, or look toward its dynamic aspects? What time frames do we use when describing culture?
  • Institutions of intangible heritage: What are the roles of museums, schools, government or civil society in the reproduction of intangible culture?
  • Intangible NATURAL heritage: Ecological relationships between humans and their environment.
  • Intangible presentation: What special needs develop in museum presentations of intangible heritage (such as collaboration with tradition bearers, eco-museums, living history programs, performances, scenography, exhibition design, multi-media)?
  • Copyright and intangible heritage: Who owns traditional knowledge, and who has the right to promulgate it?

Please send abstracts and sub-theme suggestions to ICME president Per B. Rekdal before June 1st, 2004:


tel: +47 23117500 (22859964 after april 1, 2004)

fax: +47 23117501(22859960 after april 1, 2004)

The ICOM 2004 general program runs from October 2-8:

  • October 2: Registration, ICOM Executive Council Meeting, Welcome Reception.
  • October 3: Forum Discussion on "Museums and Intangible Heritage", Keynote presentations, Opening Event and Gala Dinner.
  • October 4-6: ICME sessions
  • October 7: Excursion day
  • October 8: General Assembly of ICOM, Final Plenary Session, Farewell party

Conference registration, hotel booking and general information is available on the main conference web site: http://www.icom2004.org/


A number of post conference tours are proposed. ICME doesn't plan on organizing a post conference tour of it's own, but instead encourages members to join one of the official ICOM tours. Information on these tours is available at http://www.icom2004.org/tours_conference.htm


Most participants wishing to attend next years ICOM general conference in Seoul, Korea will be looking for extra funding in order to pay travel, hotel, conference fees and other expenses. The deadline for applying for travel grants directly from the ICOM secretariat has passed, but there are many other possibilities for financing. Use your local network, and your imagination!

Many National Committees are providing expanded travel grants for participation in ICOM 2004. Contact the committee in your country concerning details and application deadlines: icom.museum/nationals.html

ICOM members from the Asia-Pacific region may apply within February 15th 2004 for the Grace Morley Research Fellowship. This fellowship covers expenses for ICOM 2004, and will be awarded by ICOM India Trust: http://icom.museum/morley_fellowship.html

The American Association of Museums provides a number of fellowships for it's members, some of which might be applicable to ICOM 2004:


In Martin, Slovakia, from October 15th to 17th, the International Ethnomuseological Conference of Ethnographic museums in the area of Central and South/Eastern Europe was held. It was the third meeting of it's kind, as two were previously organized in Budapest (2001) and Vienna (2002, see ICME news 34). The fact is that in this part of Europe, different countries, besides being neighbors, have shared similar histories (especially when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy is in question). Consequently, they in many cases share an analogous development of ethnology and museology. This is why even present-day ethnologists from these countries have something in common. Such meetings are therefore important opportunities to gain information about the activities of museums of the area.

This year's theme was "Modern ethnological expositions at the beginning of the 21. Century". Emphasis was placed on already completed ethnographical expositions, and on the concepts used for preparing future expositions in national European museums. Although representatives of some regional museums were also present, ethnologists from 'national' ethnographic museums of this part of Europe were the primary participants. Certainly, national museums face with many dilemmas today. Some of them could be tied to the redefinition of their nature, role and purpose in the context of changed political and social situations in some of the countries involved. However, many contributions heard during the conference were merely informative reports about recent activities. What was perhaps lacking was discussion of the presented papers - on how these fit into the theme of the conference. This lack was partly compensated for on the last day of the conference - when plans for possible future cooperation were discussed.

Some papers informed about museum projects in Romania (Sibiu), in Croatia (Zagreb and Pazin), Serbia (Belgrade), Austria (Vienna), Germany (Gundelsheim), Hungary (Budapest), Bulgaria (Sofia) and Lviv (Ukraine). Others reported about new permanent exhibitions, such as in the report from Graz (Austria). Many contributions announced the opening of new permanent exhibitions that interpret (traditional) culture in the Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia and France. For example, in May 2004, a new permanent exhibition will be opened in the National Museum in Prague. In December of the same year, another permanent exhibition opens in the Slovene ethnographic museum in Ljubljana. In 2004, the new exhibition in Brno (Czech Republic) is also expected to be presented to the public, and later, Warsaw and Zagreb. It seems that, in a few years, many Central and East European National museums will redefine the interpretation of culture(s) that has existed within the frames of their countries/states.

The project of the future museum of the Musée des Civilisations de L'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MCEM) was also presented, whose concept includes participation on the broader territorial level, including European countries in general.

A problem oriented approach was noticeable especially in the contribution from the Transilvanian museum in Gundelsheim (Germany). There an example was shown how an immigrant group of Saxonians wants to preserve their own vision of their culture in Transilvania (that they had left) that can differ to the approach of ethnologists that interpret the same culture in the museological context.

Less formal were talks on the last day of the conference, where a few future projects were outlined. One of them is a proposal from the side of the Austrian ethnographic museum in Vienna about a joint exhibition on "folk art". This term would be reexamined and different interpretations of "folk art" would be shown as well as various significances of it in the context of the different ideologies and cultural politics of the counties included in the project.

Various approaches and standpoints were noticeable among the ethnologists gathered in Martin. This could be precisely one of the reasons why a conference like this makes sense. The meeting of different viewpoints can be a way of improving communication, understanding and the shaping of new joint activities in the heterogeneous area of Central- and South-Eastern Europe.

Lidija Nikocevic

Etnografski Muzej Istre, Pazin, CROATIA


<h4>ICME PAPERS 2003</h4>

24 papers were presented at the conference "Cultural Traditions in Danger of Disappearing in Contemporary Society - A Challenge for Museums", Sibiu, Romania. September 26-30, 2003.

The following papers are available for downloading from the ICME 2003 web site - with accompanying illustrations.

Other papers are currently being submitted to the ICME editors, and will also soon be on the web site. In addition, Astra museum is planning to publish a printed volume of conference proceedings.

We include Dr. Beate Wild's paper in this issue of ICME news:


By Dr. Beate Wild
Siebenbuergisches-Museum Gundelsheim, Germany

„Cultural traditions, threatened to vanish in contemporary society" is the leitmotif of the ICME conference. It is an idea which is not really new. Traditions are constantly in the process of dissolving and are being replaced by others. This happened very drastically at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when certain traditions abruptly vanished. Only partially could they be collected, documented and saved for following generations in cultural-historic museums.

A task for the museums of those days. Do modern museums have the same task? In which way does the situation today differ from that of those times? What exactly is the challenge contemporary museums are facing? Can they face that challenge at all? Aren’t they themselves in an existential crisis?

At least there have never been so many discussions concerned with the purpose of museums and with their right to exist. Are they superfluous, meaningless? Are museums possibly a mirror to society itself, which is undergoing an extreme revolution of its economy, its technology and its sociology at the moment?

Therefore, one of the problems of contemporary museums are its visitors, or rather the non-existence of its visitors, at least in the permanent exhibitions. No doubt a continuously growing offer of free-time entertainment distracts potential visitors from the museums: themeparks are more attractive and more entertaining. And by now they even incorporate certain elements, which used to belong to the specific nature of museums. On the other hand museums try to attract new target groups of visitors by staging so-called „events". In this context new tasks - like Marketing, Media- and PR-work, quality-management, out-sourcing etc – have been added to the traditional tasks of museums (which used to be collecting, documenting, safe keeping, researching, exhibiting, teaching). Often these new tasks will need so much attention that the museum’s essential work, that is safe-guarding cultural relics, is threatened with neglection.

Exhibiting has turned into perfect staging. Artefacts seem to be not attractive enough in themselves. They need a more promising wrapping, a framework, an event, a mediator. It almost seems to be more important to arouse the attention of visitors, than to make them pay attention to the artefact. Exhibitions are less cultural than social events.

Numbers of visitor mirror this trend distinctly: Events like the „long nights of the museums" or museums festivals are well visited. Recently the „long night of the Karlsruhe Museums" in Germany attracted more than 45,000 visitors within 7 hours. In general numbers of visitors are rising. And the basic set-up seems to be more favourable towards museums than ever. Rarely the past, and history has been so much on everybody’s mind as at the beginning of the 21st century. The more rapidly things are changing its coming about, the more people are trying to find security in an unchangeable past. The more our present seems to be but a fleeting moment, people flee into the past in retreat. In the year 2000 in Germany alone 200 new museums opened! All in all there are more than 5,400 museums in Germany, today!

Hanno Rauterberg, a german journalist (writing for the weekly magazine DIE ZEIT), figured that if someone wanted to visit all German museums, it would take about 16 years visiting one a day. And if the number of museums kept growing as rapidly, soon a lifetime would not be enough to visit all museums in Germany alone! Within 100 years we would face 24,000 museums! This would make one museum for every 2,500 people in Germanyi.

With these mindblowing figures – wouldn’t it be time to stop this museumstrend (or is it madness?) and reconsider, before we get totally fed up with our past in face of all those museums, which are almost haunting us with our past, by now?

Please let me take a short detour in my remarks and let us consider some reasons for the developement of museums as we know them today. They developed in the 18th century following the radical and complete turnover of society. The dissolving of royal systems and ways of living, new scientific findings, but more than anything technical and economic innovations that brought about the industrialisation of the 19th century also had a decisive side effect: at the same time, almost as an antidote a new historic consciousness grew. This was the ideological basis for museums and other means of remembering, such as historic sciences, protection and curators of monuments, etc. The loss of tradition and the loss of conscious use of tradition was compensated by bringing to mind the past.

This so-called compensation theory was first formulated by Joachim Ritter in 1963 within the discussion on the „task of humane sciences in modern society"ii. As a means of compensation the museum reacts instantanieously to structural changes. And more so compensation doesn‘t only react to modernisation, but it is necessary to modernisation as it makes its destructive aspects bearable. It makes it endurable by maintaining continuity and tradition, by re-orienting and sensitizing people to history.

Contrary to other institutions of maintenance or memory, museums compensate three-dimensionally. The „thingyness" is the foundation of its durability, this stability that is missing in a modern, fast changing, fleeting presence. A thing, an artefact is over and above this and is vivid and visible. It is real and authentic. Is the museum as such predestined to be the counterweight to innovation? At least in part it certainly is: museums make us acquainted with estranged, forgotten, lost ways of living.

Are museums therefore a useful mean to keep traditional ways of living from being forgotten? I would say: no! The faster the pace of modernisation, a pace that turns innovations of today into a past of tomorrow, the faster the collections of museums are growing, the more museums seem to be threatend with being turned into mere garbage dumps, uselessly piling up material that will rarely ever find a sensible use in the future. Even though almost everything is compiled and at your disposal, the past lacks any obligating entwinement with the present. As such the museum would be doomed to be forgotten at the long run! Let me quote a statement Michael Fehr made in 1990 in his four part thesis „The museum – a place of oblivion" (Das Museum – Ort des Vergessens)iii.

The thesis is not as shocking and as far from reality as it may seem at first glance. It is an open secret that in many museums store rooms are crammed to a degree that custodians and scientists simply can‘t cope with the masses of objects. Can anyone escape this circulus vitiosis that the entire reality is safely-stored in the museums to such a degree that our compensatory society can only lament the total loss of reality – which is lost in museums?!

Now, before museums take away their very right to exist by themselves, because they find themselves incapable to cope, we might as well ask a simple question: why, instead of constantly compensating the visitors for his loss of history, why don’t the museums simply prevent the present from dissolving into a lost past? Why don’t they intervene? Why don’t they take initiative in time, instead of following the tracks of the inevitable, which in fact is only seemingly inevitable? Why don’t they turn from a collecting, receiving into an active institution?

Undoubtedly, being turned towards the past in an exaggerated way can only produce a feeling of sadness, facing the loss of reality. And if the pieces of reality that trustfully have been given into the hands of the curators, are put to rest in storerooms as it is normal in museums, then this is, as Odo Marquardt put it, a burial in a commemorative garbage dump. Even the posterior effort to restitute the former state of the things turned artefacts (de-museification) seems doomed to fail, as even the simulated reality inevitably is petrified only to consequently dissolve – a twinfold dissolution of reality!

But is there a way out of this dead-end-road?

„Remembrance is a tentative search in that room of an ever changing, developing reality," states Gert Selleiv and proposes to seize things where they are located, in those places where „history is just taking place within the presence. Opening themselves like this, would have the consequence to museums, that they would have to act more sensitively, that they might even renounce from taking away things to museums but point out change right in those locations where it is happening. So one would translocate the museum temporarily into reality, instead of exiling things as artefacts into the irreal of the museum." Only the purposeful musealization with a defined interest in documentation determines the value of an artefact or a collection – a well known principle, which in practise is but too often eluded.

Active documentation of the present instead of eager museum-collecting, which is actually quite comparable to the swedish SAMDOK-program. In front of this, museums should maintain their provocative questions, that understand artefacts or things as a reference to the present. Change as a natural cultural process can thus be approach in a far more open, uninhibited manner without that paralysing fear of the impending vanishing of culture. And more important it can be approached in a constructive, creative and innovative way. A rigid, tense grip on history will block any openness to innovation. A dynamic, flexible approach on the other hand opens new chances to museums and museologists as well as upholders of civilisation. The studied competence of the scientist and the traditional knowledge, the cultural competence of the other can open new spaces in their co-operation, spaces in which new forms can develop, taken one would abandon of the obsession of total, comprehensive material storage. Museum’s work would then be not (only) focussed on artefacts but on action.

Anyway, a living, active form of memory which includes historical experience is far more suitable to counteract oblivion than is heaping up evidence and products, as they are being deposed and exhibited in many museums. This only establishes and intensifies the distance between the viewer-subject (the visitor) and the displayed object. The object is – as Gottfried Korff once statedv – in opposition to the viewing subject, as the word „objectus" points out („Gegen-Stand").

And how could a museum manoeuvre out of this dooming cul-de-sac of oblivion? How could a museum act, instead of react to cultural processes? First of all, this demands of the institution, that it opens itself to a kind of forum, a competent mediator between both groups, the visitor and the people whose changing culture is subject of the museum. The museums should be open to both directions, establishing a platform, a network for informational exchange. On the grounds of its experience the museum can then well give impulses, act as catalyst within cultural processes. It may trigger innovation, accompany it and co-ordinate it. This open and public approach will include besides the museum other communicative points of support, similar to the „antennae" of the ecomusees.

The cultural competence of the people on location, in connection with the traditional value-system, can within this context be utilized to cope with the reality of the present with all its obstacles. Their knowledge, their handicrafts and their material resources will no doubt experience a quite notably enhancement in value, intensified motivation, and most of all higher self esteem. Thus museum’s work will become socio-cultural work as well as socio-political work, strongly connected with economical affairs. You will find a similar approach in neibourhood-museums or in neighbourhood oriented cultural work with respective neighbourhood-conferencesvi.

I would now like to briefly present the case of Transilvania/Siebenbürgen as one example of my suggestions. This is also meant as a proposal for a model project that could be turned into reality in this or some similar way.

At a souvenir market in Bran women at various stalls proudly explained to me that the thick wool with which they knitted Norwegian patterned pullovers for tourists, had been imported from New Zealand. This, they said, was much better than their local wool. It was not worthwhile using it anymore. At least in this business local resources don’t seem to be valued anymore (quick bucks for fast knitted jumpers). Many women working in this rapidly expanding tourist-market prefer wool that has been transported across half the world to the hard work of shearing, washing, treating and spinning the wool of their local sheep. This is totally understandable from a practical point of view. It is less understandable if you take into consideration the resources Transilvania has as far as wool is concerned.

In Transilvania, firms still process local wool into blankets and carpets (for example COVTEX in Heltau). But it certainly is a declining business for large factories as well as small manufacturers. The same goes for the use of wool in households. Thus raw, unfinished wool will barely make any profit. On top of this, keeping sheep has become more difficult. Negotiating rights for grazing pasture and rights for the passing through of herds has become extremely complicated. Pastures and watering places are not being cared for anymore so that water has to be transported over long distances. Due to dry weather over the last years prices for winter fodder (hay, etc.) have risen extremely. On night-pastures fencing or protection against wolves and bears is inadequat or priceless. Wages for sheperds are in no relation to their extremely hard working conditions.


As opposed to this, the international demand for raw wool is still undiminished and this goes for the textile industry (clothing, textiles for the home) as much as for the building industry (insulation for buildings).

But to return to our initial question: how could or should a museum react to this situation? Should they just document the iminent loss of sheep-keeping and wool-manufacture? Or should they seek new possibilities for a culture to revalue the wool-industry. This, though, could only be accessed by an holistic, interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and international approach, which I will briefly describe. In a preliminary, rough draft, I see tasks within three main areas:

  • Sheepkeeping
  • Wool-manufacture and handcrafts
  • Museums and media

First biologists, (economic) geographers, ecologists and lawyers need to work out adequate solutions to the problems regarding sheep-keeping (that is, keeping and breeding sheep so as to gain a specific wool-quality, caring for pastures, security of night-pasture, better contract for sheperds etc.)

The second field is concerned with the raw wool and the many ways of processing it in crafts and handicrafts. The locals‘ traditional knowledge as to how wool should be processed ought to be linked with the professional knowledge of fashion- and textile designers. Based on the technical experience of local craftsmen, innovative products could be designed and manufactured that meet the demands of regional, national and international markets without being souvenir-trinkets.

One might set up a number of „wool-centres" each of which specializes in certain products. This could be any product that is produced during the process: washed and treated fleece, un-coloured or coloured yarn, knit-wear, fabric, clothing and home-textiles of all kinds. Blending the traditional and the innovative in terms of processing and design is decisive so that it remains clear to the manufacturer as well as the customer that the gap between traditional and modern products has been bridged.

By the way, this is not an innocent vision far removed from reality, but within smaller ranges it is already working, for example at the felt manufacture plant of Cisnadie, the Casa Rustica in Ilieni/Covasna and the big project Viscri Incepe in Viscri near Rupea.

And here again the question is raised about the participation of the museums, that is the transilvanian museums and their international co-operating partners. They could participate in many ways, by developing creative ideas and by accompanying the various workshops or as mediators between manufacturers and museum visitors.

The museum’s role as catalyst

Museums could participate in motivating, counseling and coordinating during the process of re-activating traditional techniques (cf. the fulling machine project of Lisa, directed by the Brasov ethnographic museum). By all means, museums with their particular scientific competence should accompany the developement of the production line. The efficiency of such a project, though, is only secured by informal organisational networking, which should inter-connect the various wool-centres and the museums.

The museum’s role as mediator

No doubt the role as mediator is the more traditional role of the museums. In this connection the museums will care for the various wool-centres as branch-office, but – and this is important – they do not look at them as shut-down factories, as the traditional museums of industry would have done. On the contrary, these are places where tradition is continued in a creative, innovative and active way. Comparable to the „antennae" of the ecomusees they will attract professionals as well as tourists as part of a „wool-route". Interested visitors can not only follow the process of woolmaking on location, but can learn it themselves in workshops. Places of sheepkeeping, shearing and cheesemaking will also be part of this „wool-route".


Documentation of all aspects of the process with „new media" is of utmost importance especially in the context of international co-operation. „New media"- products can be used for educational materials, exhibitions, workshops, etc.

The interest that museums will arouse through their wide-reaching work amongst the general public will in itself have a direct influence on the wool-centres. Growing interest in their products and better sales will raise the self-esteem and motivation of the craftsmen and in the end will lead to a new valuation of traditional materials and techniques. Using their cultural competence, in connection with the professional competence of the various institutions involved, will lead to new ways of a holistic, ecological and economical development of a cultural landscape at the beginning of the 21st century. A developement which the museums in their social responsibility should not only carry along, but actively create.



i Hanno Rauterberg, Musealisiert Museen! In: museumskunde 67/2/2002, p. 34-40.
ii J. Ritter, Subjektivität. Sechs Aufsätze. Frankfurt 1974, p. 105 ff
iii In: Wolfgang Zacharias (ed.), Zeitphänomen Musealisierung, Essen 1990, p. 220 - 223.
iv Gert Selle, Suchbewegung in der Wirklichkeit. Einwände gegen eine selbstverständliche Musealisierung. In: Kuehn,G./Ludwig,A.(ed.) Alltag und soziales Gedächtnis. Hamburg 1997, 93
v Gottfried Korff, Staging Science. In: museumskunde 68,1, 2003, 67-72, 68.
vi Cf. the neighbourhood-museums in Germany, France, Scandinavia, Great Britain and America; s. the detailed bibliography in: Udo Gößwald/Rita Klages (ed.), Ein Haus in Europa. Stadtkultur im Museum. Berlin 1996.


December 31: Paper and poster presentation deadline for "Oral History on Display: Presenting personal testimonies for exhibitions, presentations and publications" Annual Conference of the Oral History Society, to be held 12-13 June, 2004, Bournemouth University, Dorset, UK. http://www.oralhistory.org.uk/

February 9-10 2004: "The Roth Family, Anthropology and Colonial Administration" Conference, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia.

February 27-28 2004: "Ethnography as scientifically based research: Implications for educational policy and practice", 25th Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA http://www.gse.upenn.edu/cue/forum.php

March 5-14, 2004: Cinéma du Reel, 26th international Film Festival of Visual Anthropology and social Documentation. Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. 

March 15-21 2004: 23me Bilan du Film Ethnographique. Musée de l'Homme, Paris, France. http://www.comite-film-ethno.net

March 24-27, 2004: "INTERPRETING NARRATIVES", Fifth European Social Science History Conference, Oral History and Life Stories Network, Berlin. http://www.iisg.nl/esshc/

March 29-April 1, 2004: "Locating the Field: Metaphors of Space, Place and Context in Anthropology" Association of Social Anthropologists annual meeting, Durham, UK.http://www.theasa.org/asa04/

April 15-17, 2004: "Native Photographs as Survivance", Native American Literature Symposium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. 

April 22-25, 2004: "CRISES" Annual Meeting of the AMERICAN ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY, Atlanta, GA, USA. 

April 26-May 1, 2004: "Among Others: Conflict and Encounter in European and Mediterranean Societies", 8th Congress of SIEF in collaboration with ADAM (Association d'Anthropologie Méditerranéenne), Marseille, France. http://adam.mmsh.univ-aix.fr/AmongOthers/index_eng.htm

April 28-May 2, 2004: "Looking In, Reaching Out", Canadian Museums Association, 2004 Annual Conference in Québec City, Québec. http://www.museums.ca/conferences/default.htm

May 3-5, 2004: "Making it explicit: Presentation and representation of Native North Americans", 25th annual meeting of the American Indian Workshop, Leuven, Belgium. Deadline for abstracts: 30 Oct 2003. http://www.psy.kuleuven.ac.be/AIW25

June 12-13, 2004: "ORAL HISTORY ON DISPLAY: Presenting personal testimonies for exhibitions, presentations and publications" Annual Conference of the Oral History Society, Bournemouth University, Dorset, UK. http://www.oralhistory.org.uk/conferences/

June 18-21 2004: "Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations" Third International Conference organized by the Russian Center for Civilizational and Regional Studies in cooperation with the Institute for African Studies, Moscow, Russia. Deadline for abstracts: November 1, 2003. http://civreg.ru/english/conf/hierarchy2004.html

July 4-31, 2004: "Constructing the Past in the Middle East: A Summer Institute" Course in Istanbul, Turkey, arranged by UCLA’s International Institute. http://www.international.ucla.edu/monument/

July 19-30, 2004: "Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia". Course at Central European University, Budapest, HU. http://www.ceu.hu/sun/SUN_2004/brief_course_descriptions.htm#Rewriting History

September 8-12, 2004: "Face to face: Connecting distance and proximity", European Assosiation of Social Anthropologists (EASA), 8th bi-annual conference, Vienna, Austria. http://www.easaonline.org/, http://www.univie.ac.at/voelkerkunde/easa/

September 27th - October 3d, 2004: 15th International Ethnological Food Research Conference (in association with SIEF), Dubrovnik, Croatia, Theme: 'Mediterranean Food And Its Influences Abroad'http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/sief/dnl/15th_IEFR-Conference.doc

October 2-8, 2004: "Intangible Cultural Heritage", ICOM General Conference, Seoul, Korea. http://www.icom2004.org/

December 14-18, 2004: "Post Traditional Environments in a Post Global World", Ninth Conference of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments, Sharjah/Dubai, UAE. http://www.arch.ced.berkeley.edu/research/iaste/2004%20conference.htm

December 15-19, 2004: "Strategies for Development of Indigenous People" and "Mega Urbanization, Multi-ethnic Society, Human Rights and Development": IUAES 2004 Inter-Congress, Kolkata and Ranchi, India. http://www.leidenuniv.nl/fsw/iuaes/10-01-CALCUTTACONGRESS.HTM

ICME - International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography


Editors: Espen Wæhle & Daniel W. Papuga

Mailing address: ICME, Ethnographic Collection, The National Museum of Denmark,
12. Frederiksholms Kanal, DK-1220 Copenhagen K, Denmark,
tel.: +4533473206/03/04, fax.: +4533473320,
e-mail: editor@icme.icom.museum

Deadline for next issue, no 37: March 15th, 2004

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