CAM Bulletin No. 25 November/December 2014
CAM's 40th Anniversary
As our anniversary year draws to a close, let's take a moment to reflect on our own history as an Association. The idea of a 'Commonwealth' association of museums was raised with the Commonwealth Foundation and then with Commonwealth museum representatives at the 1971 ICOM triennial in Paris/Grenoble. A working party canvassed Commonwealth museum professionals and began working towards establishing the association. The first board was elected at the 1974 ICOM meeting in Denmark with David Ride of Australia as president.
A recognized Commonwealth Organization (CO), CAM was initially based in London and until 2013 received funding from the Commonwealth. CAM is also an Affiliated Organization (AO) of ICOM and until 1992 met at or close to ICOM triennial general assemblies. Members often met informally at subsequent ICOM meetings. CAM collaborates with other ICOM AOs, International Committees and National Committees, and with other Commonwealth Organizations, where appropriate. CAM has supported the establishment of other regional AOs such as the Pacific Islands Museums Association (PIMA), the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC) and AFRICOM. Not all CAM members are ICOM members and not all members of the other AOs are from Commonwealth nations.
CAM's early programmes were smaller and sporadic, as the primary focus was to increase knowledge of CAM throughout the Commonwealth and membership in as many Commonwealth countries as possible. In 1975 CAM participated in a regional symposium on Museums and Cultural Scientific Exchanges in Calcutta in collaboration with ICOM India and the ICOM Regional Agency in Asia at which museum curators in small and developing nations expressed concern about isolation and the lack of training opportunities. In 1977, CAM organised The Establishment, Development and Staffing of Museums using Locally Available Resources, Materials and Skills in London. In 1978 CAM collaborated with the Commonwealth Association of Architects on a workshop on the Conservation of Historic Towns and Monuments in Kenya. CAM's president from 1980-1983 was Frank Greenaway of the United Kingdom. CAM met at Calgary before ICOM in Mexico in 1980 and the Executive Council gathered in Singapore in 1982 for a working session when the Singapore National Museum's History Section was being established.
When Duncan Cameron was president from 1983-1989 the Secretariat relocated to Canada, first to Calgary and then to Edmonton in 2013. Lois Irvine was president from 1989-1992, Secretary until 1995 and Secretary-General from 1995-2012. Barbara Winters acted as Assistant Secretary-General from 2007 to 2010. Catherine C. Cole succeeded Lois as Secretary-General in January 2013. CAM has maintained a presence in the UK, initially through Secretary and later Vice-President Reg Varney and later Timothy Mason from 2003-2014, and now Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool.
Participants in a 1996-1997 DLP review, Paris: Dianna Thompson, Peter Kinyanjui, Commonwealth of Learning, Lois Irvine, Mubiana Luhila, ICCROM-PREMA, Catherine Antomarchi, ICCROM, Alissandra Cummins, Emmanuel Arinze.
In 1985 an international group of CAM members revised the Canadian Museums Association's (CMA) Distance Learning Programme in Basic Museum Studies for international use and began offering it to museum workers throughout the Commonwealth. The programme has evolved significantly since then to reflect the changing role of museums in society, particularly in the context of development. It includes a significant number of papers given by international museum professional at CAM meetings or developed during CAM activities. CAM has established an international advisory panel to revise the contents once again.
John Robinson of the Science Museum, London edited an annual CAM Newsletter from 1978-1982, followed by Keith Thomson of Palmerston North, New Zealand, a founding member of CAM, from 1987-1995. The CAM Bulletin was introduced in 1996 as a semi-quarterly with Amareswar Galla as its first editor and from 1997 was issued irregularly by the CAM Secretariat and online. Since 2013, the CAM Bulletin has been published bimonthly. CAM has presented at numerous international conferences and published occasional papers such as the recent Manual for Children in African Museums (2011), presentations from the triennial symposia and regional workshops as well as articles in international, Commonwealth and museology publications. The University of Victoria began hosting a CAM website in 1999 and CAM increasingly publishes online.
CAM met at ICOM in Argentina in 1986 and in St. Albans, UK in 1989. In 1992, CAM held a symposium on The Role of Museums in Society in Ottawa before ICOM's general assembly in Quebec City. Since then CAM workshops and events have been held apart from ICOM meetings in order to allow people to participate in both ICOM and CAM and for CAM to reach more out of the way locations in the Commonwealth. Sadashiv Gorakshkar, who worked at the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India from 1964-1996, was president from 1992 to 1995.
CAM has had a particular focus on indigenous curatorship in post-colonial societies witnessed through support of MAC's 1993 regional workshop in Belize on Museums, Ethics and Indigenous Peoples: Taking the Initiative, and CAM's 1994 triennial symposium Curatorship: Indigenous Perspectives in Post-Colonial Societies held in partnership with the University of Victoria, the papers from which were published by the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Soon to become CAM President Emmanuel Arinze on the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria, Canada, 1994
Nigerian Emmanuel Arinze was president from 1995 to his untimely death in 2005. Many of the initiatives he introduced during his term and particularly in CAM's 25th anniversary year 1999, are being renewed now: membership engagement, improved communications, branding, distance learning programme review, regional workshops, links with other international museums' organizations, identification of potential patrons and Cowrie Circle members, funding diversification, and "contributing positively to the changing face of museology and museum practice at a global level."
In September 1995 CAM held its first meeting in Africa on Museums and the National Identity: Ideas, Issues and Applications to mark the end of apartheid, look at issues of museums and national identity and establish a better working relationship with and among the African museum community. CAM was the first organisation to welcome South Africa into the free world. The programme began with a study tour of South African museums, then moved to the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery for a seminar and a look at their Zebra on Wheels mobile museum in Ditshegwane Village, Botswana. Delegates discussed the challenges in working with collections that had been established by colonial administrators and were inadequate to reflect cultural diversity and amasiko, the intangible cultural heritage of oral tradition, rituals and customs.
In May 1996, a small meeting was organized by ICCROM-PREMA in Rome, and CAM, WAMP, and the Southern African Development Community Association of Museums and Monuments (SADCAMM) met to identify priority areas for cooperation with African museums and identify requirements and conditions for development of networks to support common programmes.
Since 1997 CAM has developed opportunities for young Canadian museologists to intern in museums and related organizations throughout the Commonwealth funded by the Canadian government. These internships provide invaluable international work experience in the museum field for recent graduates and have benefitted the Canadian museums community and CAM as well as host institutions in Africa, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and the United Kingdom.
His Excellency the late Nelson Mandela, then President of South Africa, and Sir Shridath 'Sonny' Ramphal of Guyana, second Commonwealth Secretary-General, became CAM patrons in 1997. The October 1997 CAM Bulletin announced that Mandela, a symbol of political democracy, racial justice, truth and reconciliation, recognised "the conservation of all our legacies as a priority for nation building. Museums should reflect a message of tolerance and peace, of respect for all cultures and for the environment"; Ramphal, commended CAM "on its initiatives to enrich the lives of people by educating them about their history and heritage through the development of museums, because I know that this will have a profound effect, particularly in the developing countries;" and Arinze said, "Peace, which will become a critical issue in the next century demands that museums must begin to prepare themselves to contribute significantly to the attainment of sustainable peace globally."
Dr. Davidson Hepburn of the Bahamas became a CAM patron in 2013. Hepburn served as Ambassador of The Bahamas to the United Nations from 1978-1988 and joined UNESCO in 1993, serving as President of the 35th UNESCO General Conference from 2009-2011. He was Chairman of the Board of the National Museum of The Bahamas, Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation of The Bahamas.
The Cowrie Circle was introduced in the February 1998 CAM Bulletin to honour prominent museum people of the Commonwealth who have contributed to the Association and to museum development in their own countries and internationally. The cowrie shell was chosen as CAM's symbol because it "is a true example of 'Common Wealth' which is shared across our Commonwealth. It is an object of value and an object of meaning. CAM has selected this symbol to represent our common heritage and to represent a continuum from past to future as we work to contribute 'something of value' to our international museum community."
CAM Patron, Dr. Davidson Hepburn giving the keynote address in Singapore in 2011.
CAM held our first workshop on Children in African Museums: The Undiscovered Audience in Nairobi in 1997 where we founded the Group for Children in African Museums (GCAM), a network of people interested in making museums 'children-friendly' and helping to link museums and museum professionals, to support and promote children's programs, and share ideas and programs across the continent and beyond. The brainchild of Emmanuel Arinze, shortly before her recent death, Doreen Nteta of Botswana wrote that "For African museums this has been revolutionary." CAM continued its long history of developing declarations at its meetings and sharing them with the Commonwealth Foundation and other bodies with the Nairobi Declaration on Children in African Museums.
The CAM triennial meeting on the theme of Museums, Peace, Democracy and Governance in the 21st Century was held in Barbados in May 1999 where we adopted the Bridgetown Declaration which stated "CAM endeavours to be a potent force within the international museum community concerned with peace and democracy, and . will be an advocate for the promotion of peace, democracy and good governance through Commonwealth museums." As a result CAM organized an exhibition of children's art titled What Peace Means to Me in 2002.
CAM President Emmanuel Arinze spoke about CAM's training activities at the establishment of the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM) in October 1999 in Lusaka, Zambia. GCAM 2 was held in Nairobi, Kenya on the theme The Friendly Museum: Managing Children's Programmes in African Museums in September 2001. The Program for Museum Development in Africa (PMDA) also took up this cause and proceeded to develop an action plan for children and African museums.
Then CAM President Emmanuel Arinze, Secretary-General Lois Irvine and Reg Varney in Liverpool, 2003.
In Liverpool (2003) CAM focused on Museums in the Commonwealth: Global Vision, Local Mission. Then Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Foundation Rudo Chitiga spoke on the role of Commonwealth Associations and other NGOs within civil societies, quoted in the CAM Bulletin in February 2007: "The museum, I think, has a key role in the empowerment of people.the museum is a centre where people can reaffirm their belief in their abilities.All my life when I felt there were too many things coming from all directions that I couldn't cope, I always went to the Great Zimbabwe Monument to spend a weekend there.and just look and see that there are people of my Mother's tribe who built this, therefore, it is in my genes to do great things or to succeed."
Commonwealth museums addressed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which included to eradicate poverty; advance universal primary education; promote gender equality; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and global partnership for development. The Liverpool Declaration stated that CAM would "develop strategies which strengthen capacities and encourage partnerships between museums and between museums and communities/constituencies and recognized the priorities established by the Commonwealth Foundation adopted in response to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals." CAM identified fourteen wide-ranging directions regarding peace and slavery-related initiatives, the protection of cultural and intangible heritage, professional development, the status of women in museums of the Commonwealth, disaster planning and mitigation, inclusion of marginalized groups, community-led strategies, cultural diversity and equity, biodiversity and sustainability. Many of these themes have been addressed by CAM.
Then CAM President Martin Segger with daughter of Chief Albert Luthuli, the first African to win the Nobel Peace Prize and an early leader of the ANC, 2009.
Current CAM President Rooksana Omar and Cowrie Circle members the late Doreen Nteta, Botswana and Michael Gondwe, Malawi, 2009.
In 2004 CAM extended its focus into the Caribbean with the administration of a survey on programming in the Caribbean, gathering and analysing curricula related to culture and heritage, and planning a workshop in Bridgetown in 2005 to initiate a strategy for children's programming followed by Children's Voices in Caribbean Museums at the National Museum of the Bahamas in Nassau in 2007, part of a conference in honour of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade - Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Resources, Research and Education in Caribbean Museums.
CAM returned to Africa in 2005 with Realizing the Dream: Reaching the Children in Africa, Blantyre, Malawi and the fourth GCAM workshop which took place at the Luthuli Museum, Groutville, Stanger, in 2009, the theme being The Creative Museum, African Museums using culture for the development of children and youth. Those two GCAM meetings were followed by Making a Difference Together: Workshop on Collaborative Program Planning held in Calabar in 2012 in partnership with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments Nigeria (NCMM) and the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) with 62 participants from West Africa.
Participants in Museums & Diversity, Guyana, 2008
Through the years CAM maintained its connection to the Commonwealth. In 2005 CAM President Martin Segger noted that CAM was dedicated to supporting the Commonwealth's program for promoting diversity, civil society and social cohesion. In the February 2007 CAM Bulletin he suggested the need for museums "to rejoin the diversity debate at the policy, practical and professional levels worldwide, and with some urgency." He suggested "Perhaps a role for CAM, representing a coalition of countries which have seriously addressed the implications of immigration, racial discrimination and armed conflict could start by developing a catalogue of best practices for a museology of social tolerance and understanding. Do museums in the developing world have something to teach those in the developed world?" he asked.
In 2006 CAM supported a symposium on Pacific Museums and Sustainable Heritage Development organized by the Australian National University in Canberra and gained an understanding of the needs and development of Commonwealth museums in the South Pacific.
Recent CAM workshops and symposia include: Museums & Diversity in Georgetown, Guyana (2008); Rethinking Museums in Mumbai, India (June 2010); Commonwealth Museums: Culture, Economy, Climate Change and Youth in partnership with the National Heritage Board, Singapore (May 2011); Disaster Risk Management for Caribbean Museums in collaboration with the National Museum of The Bahamas (September 2013) and Taking it to the Streets: Museums and Community Engagement in collaboration with Glasgow Museums, Scotland (May 2014).
A field trip to Turtle Mountain, Guyana, 2008
Former CAM President Sadashiv Gorakshkar with Michael Gondwe at the opening of the workshop in India, 2010.
Participants outside the host institution, the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, India, 2010
In 2003 CAM began work on a Cultural Heritage Project that, under Martin Segger, evolved into a partnership with the Commonwealth Lawyer's Association and the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, McGill University, Montreal. It expanded to include intangible heritage. The initiative is examining the capacity of museum and heritage professionals in smaller Commonwealth countries to access and utilize international conservation laws, protocols and interstate agreements. A report completed in 2011 was provided to the International Advisory Committee and Commonwealth Lawyer's Association. CAM is currently seeking funding to continue the project.
Timothy Mason represented CAM on the recent Zimbabwe Cultural Cluster and with Geoffrey Davis Past-President of ACLALS (the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies) and the Zimbabwean actress Chipo Chung travelled to Zimbabwe to meet people from the cultural community - performing and visual arts, museums and heritage, archives, literature, and film. They met with a wide circle of representatives to discuss what needs to be done to build capacity in the cultural sector and to consider how Commonwealth countries might be able to assist. Their report has supplied a blueprint for Zimbabwe's re-engagement with the Commonwealth and the international cultural community.
There are many individuals and institutions that have assisted and collaborated with CAM over the years and too little space to give them all credit here. CAM sincerely thanks past and present Council members, volunteers, meeting organisers, facilitators and speakers, intern host institutions, and distance learning programme tutors. We are particularly grateful to our past and present funders including the Royal Commonwealth Society - Edmonton Branch, the Rangoonwala Foundation, the Leventis Foundation, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Getty Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and to the museums throughout the Commonwealth who have hosted CAM activities.
As you can see, CAM has had a very rich history and contributed significantly to the development of museums and museum workers throughout the Commonwealth. Although currently facing challenges due to the loss of core funding from the Commonwealth Foundation, under current President Rooksana Omar we're optimistic that our contributions to global museum development will continue for many years to come. If you are interested in volunteering to be a part of our future, please contact the Secretariat.
Participatory Governance in Museum
As noted in the July/August issue of the CAM Bulletin, CAM has initiated a study of participatory governance in the museum context in collaboration with two Canadian museums: the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge and the Musée Heritage Museum in St. Albert, funded by the Alberta Museums Association. We have conducted an extensive literature review and survey of museums and communities and are now working on the final report. Our research has shown that although museums are engaging with their communities in a wide variety of ways, few are taking that engagement to the point of participatory governance as defined by the Commonwealth Secretariat. If participatory governance is "Engagement which enables citizens to be involved in policy selection, formation and oversight that may result in the implementation of public policies that effect changes in their lives," museums often stop short. They may increase awareness and encourage debate about contemporary issues but few advocate for specific positions or policy change, and indeed some would argue that this is not an appropriate role for museums. The report will be available early in 2014.
CAM MEMBER NEWS
Retiring CAM Council Member Tim Mason
by Martin Segger, CAM Past-President
Tim Mason at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 2011
Timothy Mason brought to the CAM board the wisdom and insight of many years of museum and Commonwealth experience. He served as Director of the British Museums and Galleries Commission until 2000, was Acting Director of the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment and previous to those roles Chief Executive of the London Arts Board. Tim's early professional cultural roots were in performing arts administration. More recently he has been an active museum consultant, also author and contributor to numerous museum publications including The Museums Journal. He was the author of the first editions of Care, Diligence & Skill, a handbook for the boards of arts organisations.
Tim was elected to the CAM Council at our 2003 Liverpool meeting and took on the task of representing CAM as our Secretary-Treasurer in the ongoing relationship with the Commonwealth Foundation. He was re-elected to Council at our Guyana meeting in 2008, becoming our International Treasurer, also representing us on the Advisory Committee of the International Council of Museums. Tim was a core member of the Commonwealth Foundation sponsored Zimbabwe Cultural Cluster and reported to us at this year's CAM Glasgow symposium.
We will miss Tim's good advice and his very deep commitment to CAM over the past ten years.
WELCOME TO NEW CAM MEMBERS
Catherine Snel, South Africa; Tejshvi Jain, India; John McAvity, Canada
In order to maintain our Affiliated Organization status with ICOM, CAM must demonstrate that at least half of our members are also ICOM members. If you have not yet done so, please submit your ICOM membership number to the CAM Secretariat as soon as possible at CatherineC.Cole@telus.net.
Roundtable on Commonwealth Organisations and the People's Commonwealth: Common Purpose or the Parting of the Ways? London, October 24
By Dr Craig Barclay FSA, Curator of Durham University Museums
Organised by The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs in partnership with the Royal Overseas League, this day conference brought together representatives of a wide range of organisations to discuss the future of the 'People's Commonwealth', which exists in parallel with the official inter-governmental Commonwealth and includes some 70 or so accredited Commonwealth Organisations (COs), including CAM.
Conducted under the Chatham House rule (which does not allow identification individuals who make comments that may be reported), the meeting attracted numerous high-level delegates, including the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, a representative of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and representatives of Commonwealth Organisations.
Much of the discussion focussed upon the Commonwealth Foundation's 'new direction' of promoting participatory governance and the effect that this has upon existing Commonwealth Organisations. The Foundation funding now supports almost exclusively non-affiliated groups within the Commonwealth. Whilst this shift in emphasis might be viewed as more inclusive, it has resulted in the funding pot available to the affiliated COs virtually disappearing. It was stressed that many small COs have historically received only very small grants to fund key 'backroom' activities but - as a result of this core support - have been able to achieve significant gains through the willingness of members to work long hours without payment. Concerns were expressed that, if such low-level core financial support were to be lost, significant areas of COs' activity would become unsustainable. This was however countered by the observation that some COs were moribund or had proven resistant to adaptation and change. In addition, the internal challenges currently facing the Commonwealth Secretariat were raised.
The representative of one major CO reported that their group was dropping 'Commonwealth' from its title as the association with the Commonwealth had proven a disincentive to external financial sponsors. On a more positive note, reference was made to the establishment of a new team in the Secretary-General's Office charged with improving liaison between accredited CO's and the Secretariat.
Not all speakers were so positive. One suggested that the Commonwealth is at its least relevant/dynamic for 35 years and needs to re-launch if it is to remain relevant. Such a re-launch would require: Reform (including the appointment of a new Secretary-General with a clear job description and the ability to galvanise such reform; Regrouping (a joined-up Commonwealth); Refocus (concentrating on what we do best); Resourcing (we all need to give in-kind support and governments need to give more); Recharging (can we 'grow' the Commonwealth by accepting 'associate members' who are happy to adhere to the rules).
Concern was also expressed at the lack of opportunity afforded to Commonwealth Organisations to engage with governmental bodies, for example in the field of human rights. It was also noted that both CHOGM and Finance Ministers' meetings appeared to be of decreasing importance. It was suggested that such decreased opportunities to engage and influence were unhelpful, as was the decrease in opportunities for COs to use Commonwealth premises to hold meetings, etc. More significantly however, concerns were voiced that COs face a 'black hole' when attempting to engage with Commonwealth official bodies, with correspondence frequently unanswered, and that key decision making processes are closed and opaque, with the public, COs and media all actively excluded from the process. This, it was feared, represented a huge democratic failure. In response, it was suggested that COs might investigate the possibility of engaging digitally with governments and the Commonwealth Secretariat rather than attempting to gain leverage through lobbying at CHOGM and other meetings.
Overall, it was a very interesting day, with many positive aspects of the Commonwealth stressed but with a spotlight also being shone on areas of perceived weakness. The adoption of the Chatham House rule for the meeting encouraged open debate and it will be interesting to see how the concerns raised by COs will be addressed by the Commonwealth Secretariat and Foundation.
Intellectual Property, Indigenous People and their Knowledge.
Cambridge University Press, 2014
By Dr Craig Barclay FSA, Curator of Durham University Museums
Intellectual Property, Indigenous People and their Knowledge addresses indigenous knowledge within the context of international intellectual property law historically and argues the need to connect human rights to property rights. At the international level, much of the recognition of indigenous knowledge is symbolic, not concrete. For example, Drahos distinguishes between UNESCO's work on the safeguarding and protection of indigenous knowledge as part of cultural heritage and property standards in indigenous knowledge. He notes that UNESCO's conventions draw support from human rights principles, that "The defence of cultural diversity implies a particular commitment of the rights of those belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples." He notes that these principles are not necessarily upheld by economically powerful states, like the United States which withdrew from UNESCO in 1984 "because it did not like the economic implications of the work that UNESCO was doing, including the implications for copyright protection." (p. 90) He argues that safeguarding intangible cultural heritage provides a bureaucratic framework but questions how it will work out for indigenous groups within states.
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