Caracas, November 27, 2020.
ICOM-Venezuela on safety and professional ethics in museums
Last Wednesday, November 11, 2020, the Ministry of Popular Power for Culture (Mpppc) officially reported, through a press release, about the alleged theft of two works of art from the Collection of the National Museums Foundation (FMN ) guarded by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas Armando Reverón (Maccar). This is an unfortunate event that has caused great impact and stir in the museum community, the cultural sector and the national public opinion, due to the fact that it is a disrespectful and irregular situation in which two FMN museum workers are involved.
What has happened deserves deep reflection. From the analysis of the events that have been added in recent years in the national territory, in which museums have suffered theft of equipment, materials and do not have adequate budgets and infrastructure, we are facing a serious problem: in the country there is no There are clear museum policies that promote strategies and actions to strengthen the basic principles of the work of the staff that allow the safeguarding of the important cultural and scientific heritage of the collections that are part of the national memory. Unfortunately, containers are systematically deteriorated, lacking adequate infrastructure and the necessary equipment to carry out their fundamental functions with dignity, as defined in the missions of each institution.
An urgent call
The Venezuelan State, through its governing bodies such as -the Ministry of Popular Power for Culture (Mpppc), the National Museums Foundation (FMN) and the Institute of Cultural Heritage (IPC) - must constantly ensure that museums can guarantee the protection, conservation, documentation and promotion of our tangible and intangible heritage assets. In this sense, we recall the binding aspects of co-responsibility that the national government has with museums and cultural heritage:
As a principle, the first obligation of the State is to protect and promote the heritage of Venezuelans , as well as the human, physical and financial resources available for this purpose.
It must guarantee the conditions of protection of the collections with protocols and adequate security systems , to protect the goods against any risk situation that could occur in the event of theft or theft.
Allocate sufficient budgets and funds to carry out and promote museum activities ; in addition to allowing self-management as a way to generate economic resources for its sustainability and development.
It is essential to hire personnel with the training and clear professional experience to assume responsibilities in any area of museum management. This action includes the directors, coordinators, heads of areas, departments and security of each institution.
It is necessary to permanently update the training and improvement, to maintain the effectiveness of the professionals who work in the museum, with a view to reinforcing the ethical commitment that must always prevail in the teams that work in these spaces.
It is a priority that real actions are taken to protect the collections of our museums that are an expression of the cultural and natural heritage of the communities from which they come and, therefore, not only go beyond the characteristics of mere property but also They can have very strong affinities with national, regional, local, ethnic, religious and social identities.
It is imperative to act quickly and make the necessary efforts to ensure that the professional responsibility for the custody and security of the collections is entrusted to individuals with appropriate qualifications and knowledge . In a very sensitive area, such as museum security, tasks and actions must be properly supervised.
The Mpppc and the IPC must lay the foundations for a global reconsideration of priorities and lines of action according to the diagnoses that each institution has . With this action, the recovery of the infrastructures, vaults and collection deposits with optimal conditions of air conditioning, protection, security and custody should be promoted.
It is vital that museum workers have decent salaries, commensurate with the responsibilities they exercise in these important memory centers.
Unpossible to protect collections
We must remember that museums are holders of relevant and transcendental collections that need to be conserved for the benefit of society and its development. These must have special protection to contribute to the safeguarding of the natural, cultural and scientific heritage. The collections constitute an important public heritage and are in a special situation with respect to the laws, since they enjoy the protection of international law. The notion of good administration is inherent to this mission of public interest and includes the concepts of legitimate property, permanence, documentation, accessibility and responsible transfer.
Likewise, we must think about how each citizen can proactively support these institutions. Our museums need to be seen from the good practices that their professionals carry out. It is appropriate to look at them from the commitment of many workers who continue in these spaces and assume great apostolates in museum management. Without them, museums would hardly exist in the national geography.
Members of the museum profession must respect the norms, established laws, and maintain the honor and dignity of their profession. In Venezuela there are approximately 2,800 museum workers who work with mysticism and dedication. In this sense, we recall some articles of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums , regarding what has happened to the heritage of museums.
8.5 Illicit traffic. Members of the museum profession should never contribute directly or indirectly to the illicit traffic or trade in natural or cultural property.
8.6 Confidentiality. Members of the museum profession must protect confidential information obtained in the performance of their duties. Furthermore, information on objects brought to museums for identification is confidential and should not be published or communicated to any institution or person without the specific authorization of their owners.
8.7 Security of museums and collections. Museum personnel will observe the strictest confidentiality with regard to information relating to the security of museums or private collections and premises that they visit in the performance of their duties.
8.8 Exception to the obligation of confidentiality. Confidentiality is subordinate to the legal obligation to assist the police or other competent authorities to carry out investigations into property that may have been illegally stolen, acquired or transferred.
8.9 Personal independence. Although members of a profession are entitled to a certain personal independence, museum professionals must be aware that no private business or professional interest can be completely separated from the activities of the institutions to which they belong.
The call and the proposal
From what has happened in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas and, recently in other museums in the country (Francisco Narváez Contemporary Art Museum, Maracay Mario Abreu Contemporary Art Museum, Zulia Museum of Contemporary Art (Maczul) Museum del Transporte, Museo del Oro and Museo Salvador Valero) we call on each worker to collaborate and become aware that we are all jointly responsible for the protection of heritage, which is part of our memory and identity, as established by the Law of Protection and Defense of the Cultural Heritage of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
From ICOM-Venezuela we propose tables for reflection and debate to exchange, listen to each other and generate realistic, concrete and effective proposals in which the multiple voices of the national and international museum community participate. This initiative is about having an impact on the design of true and inclusive national, regional and local policies and regulations that aim to improve good museum practices in the country.
Board of Directors
Venezuelan National Committee
International Council of Museums, ICOM
Caracas, Sunday May 24, 2020
DIM2020, a week of inclusion and digital reactivation
Dear partners, friends and visitors of our digital media:
On Monday May 18 we started our DIM2020 programming, an initiative of our committee that lasted until today. It has been a week full of pleasant impressions and full of interest from various citizens and sectors to know the actions carried out by ICOM-Venezuela.
These events have been possible thanks to each of the professionals who accepted the invitation, in this time of pandemic, to participate in this unprecedented programming devised by our national committee. We thank the new members of ICOM-Venezuela; to Venezuelan museum professionals, who work in the country in public museum institutions and private cultural entities; to the specialists who are abroad and to the academics and professors of the Master of Management and Cultural Policies of the Research Institute of Communications, Ininco-UCV. From the perspective of inclusion and diversity, they contributed their reflections on the theme proposed for this edition of the DIM.
We are very proud to have carried out, in these seven days, the launch of our website www.icom-venezuela.com , an information and communication platform that has had a positive acceptance and a lot of resonance, which translates into a representative number of national and international visits. Other important sections of the program, and which were part of the outstanding news of the week, were made up of the presentation of the MUSEOlógico informational-digital medium , the start of the call for new members ICOM-Venezuela 2020-2021, the activation of the Channel Official YouTube, the creation in Telegram of the ICOM-News-Venezuela News Channel and the announcement of the bases to participate in the Venezuelan Good Museological Practices Award 2020-2021.
Without a doubt, it was a consistent, extensive and nurturing celebration of International Museum Day. It is an achievement of our committee, which has been possible thanks to the effort of the Press and Communications Coordination of ICOM-Venezuela and the excellent team of designers who support us. We give these professionals public recognition for their commitment and dedication. We have achieved an active presence in the various digital media (newspapers and TV channels, among others). Publications of informative interviews were carried out, with a significant resonance in various sectors of public opinion; tasks that have allowed reactivating the communication of the essence, reason for being and meaning of the Venezuelan National Committee of ICOM. To make this possible, technology has been a great ally with its various social networks and tools, which have provided us with effective means to reach you and other latitudes.
We have seen how inclusion can be that effective tool to achieve approaches, always under the fundamental premise of expressing respect for the diversity of thoughts. ICOM-Venezuela aspires to be a forum for professionals in Venezuelan museology and museums in the country. We are a non-governmental organization that permanently seeks the inclusion of all those who believe in the museum as a democratic and social transformation institution.
We closed a week of activities with excellent results. Our expectations were exceeded and with this dynamism we give way to the celebration of 40 years of the foundation of ICOM-Venezuela. We are growing as an association. Soon, we will present the events that will be part of this important anniversary.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of ICOM-Venezuela, thank you very much for following, reading, socializing our content on social networks and recognizing the work that has been done, marked by commitment and responsibility.
Dr. Edgar Ernesto González
An atypical International Museum Day 2020
Today, May 18, 2020, we celebrate International Museum Day, DIM2020, which for this edition, number 42, presents the theme of Museums for equality: diversity and inclusion. Its main objective is to be a meeting point to celebrate diversity and reflect on the multiple perspectives that museum communities and staff have on this axis. Also, it has been proposed to promote tools and strategies to identify, overcome the prejudices and obstacles that often prevent museum institutions from addressing, in their multiple readings, other topics that allow establishing high impact programs and projects, in what their dynamic lines be diversity and equality. This idea, without a doubt, is linked in a special way with the exhibition, research and programming proposals.
During the last weeks we have glimpsed the challenges that the crisis of COVID-19 has generated in the cultural and museum sector. It is a bitter situation that has affected a large number of institutions on various continents. We have also felt this reality in our territory. It is a crisis that has highlighted other situations regarding planning, among which administrative and budgetary aspects stand out.
In the museums of Venezuela there have been no evidence of dismissals or confusing work situations as in other latitudes. This is not our case; However, the lack of resources and the absence of clear museum policies project and show that in addition to the problems accumulated over time, our containers of art and memory will have greater difficulties in their infrastructures, in addition to the fact that creating fair wage incentives will be a priority. , more real and consistent with the dynamics and training of professionals and workers. These are actions that will generate effective dynamics to capture those audiences who, in the midst of this quarantine, have physically disconnected from the museum. The idea is to visit them again after the confinement ends. Cultural authorities will have to quickly allocate emergency funds to guarantee the sustainability of museums, as many governments in Latin America and the international context have done.
As a result of the pandemic, museums and cultural industries have become in recent weeks the great catalysts for quarantine and social distancing. An interesting contribution they have made is to mobilize efforts and capacities to promote community resilience, through the most varied creative projects. Thus, it is a matter of making home confinement more bearable, with an eye always on the issue of social inclusion.
These educational mediation programs in times of pandemic have been developed from the interaction with novel strategies of significant learning and from the recognition of the collections. Reinterpretations of works arise, home performances that take shelter in the photographic image, online seminars, campaigns on social networks, visits and virtual tours of rooms and exhibitions by curators and directors. Overall, a more dynamic digital presence has been enhanced. They are activities that have integrated families, in their homes, into creative experiences. These practices have given the opportunity and the power to project, from the possibilities offered by technology, ingenious ways to communicate with the multiple communities and the variety of environments. They are new ways of inclusion practices.
During this scenario we have observed from the inclusion and diversity the transformations that museums experience. From these advances, at ICOM-Venezuela we think that the situation of COVID-19 quickly advanced the museum's vision of the future. That concept and space that has now entered, and with a lot of accent, the creative and artistic uses of technology. In Venezuela, although museums suffer great limitations in this regard, many have managed to materialize important programmatic contributions that guarantee presence and the possibility of sharing their initiatives as democratic and participatory spaces.
Museums, as democratizing agents, must stimulate social inclusion as a way to promote cultural exchange. It is one of the most precise actions to promote a culture of peace among peoples. The central objective of inclusion is, precisely, to comprehensively improve the living conditions of individuals and offer the same educational, cultural, employment and economic opportunities that the rest of society enjoys. Museums must be for everyone. They must be accessible, inclusive and diverse.
From ICOM-Venezuela we see how museum institutions are connecting to realities that in other times were difficult to conceive. We recognize the value of these memory spaces and we believe that the authorities of the Venezuelan State should publicly recognize that they are effective means of promoting strategies that address fundamental issues. We must rescue and reinvigorate the important role that the museum has in the future of our society. They are necessary and binding spaces of memory, extremely important for the design of inclusive policies. Without a doubt, governments must promote this valuable and important premise.
ICOM-Venezuela Board of Directors
Another collection suffers from fire: Deutsche Museum
with German art and heritage
Although the museum's security systems were activated, more than 8,000 works suffered the effects of smoke, heat and flames
Caracas, October 15, 2018. Last September a tragedy struck the international museum community: a voracious fire consumed the National Museum of Brazil, based in Rio de Janeiro, and its collection, made up of more than 20 million pieces. , was devastated.
Recently, on October 10, 2018, another large fire occurred in a warehouse of the Deutsches Museum. This caused severe damage amounting to approximately ten million euros.
Munich is one of the largest technology museums in the world. It exhibited in its rooms 8 thousand pieces that the flames consumed for more than two hours. There were numerous objects and historical pieces that are part of the German scientific memory.
This renowned museum also had pieces from its collection, photos and objects as temporary custody. These were in the warehouse of the Deutsches Museum. Fortunately, the damage suffered by these collections was slight. In this case, the fire fighting system responded on time and the damage was not greater.
According to the museum spokesman, around 8 thousand pieces, objects, artifacts and scientific equipment were affected or destroyed by heat and smoke. The official stated the urgent need to carry out cleaning and restoration work, since the financial damage was of great impact; So much so that the building where the deposits are located was declared unusable until further notice.
The Venezuelan National Committee of the International Council of Museums, ICOM, stands in solidarity with colleagues from the Deutsches Museum and its director general, Dr. Wolfgang M. This is a dramatic new episode that invites us to reflect, once again, on the vital relevance protection systems against possible fires or situations that endanger the collections of works and pieces and the workers who guard them.
Board of Directors