C o m m o n w e a l t h
A s s o c i a t i o n o f
M u s e u m s
CAM Activity Report for 1999-2003
The current President has been in office since 1995. In presenting this report we are primarily reviewing the years since 1999 but also making reference to a number of events which have taken place during the period since 1995. The main reason for this somewhat broader review is that the groundwork for much of what we have done in the last Triennial period was laid in the 1995-99 period if not before that. (It has actually been about four years since each major meeting and will likely continue to be under the current level of resources). This report will enable us to see where we have come in the last eight years and help to see where we might go from here. Our Council composition will change significantly this year even though a number of experienced members will remain in key positions.
The major activity for the Commonwealth Association of Museums in 1995-6 was the most ambitious program that had been undertaken to date: Museums and the National Identity: Ideas, Issues and Applications. This was a seminar and outreach program in Botswana and South Africa which was developed to welcome South Africa back to the Commonwealth and to look at issues of museums and national identity which had particular relevance to South Africa but also to the rest of Africa and the Commonwealth museum communities. It began the process to establish a better working relationship with and among the African museum community.
This program marked the beginning of a strong intent to reach CAM members and museums in less travelled parts of the Commonwealth. While CAM intends to increase its international partnerships including ICOM, it has moved away from holding its major events in conjunction with the ICOM meeting in order to reach the smaller nations of the Commonwealth.
The program included three parts: a small delegation tour of Cape Town and visit to government departments in Johannesburg, a study tour of museums in the Johannesburg, Pretoria area and a seminar and study tour in Botswana. Twenty-one participants and two additional members of the National Cultural History Museum took part in the study tour in South Africa and 35 people attended the seminar and study tour program in Gaborone with the addition of the Botswana museum community.
We are behind in our publications program and the papers from this meeting will be issued as they remain remarkably relevant to current issues in museums both locally and internationally.
The policy of reaching out into the Commonwealth was continued with the next Commonwealth-wide meeting in the Caribbean region.
Museums, Peace, Democracy & Governance in the 21st Century, Barbados, May 1999
This program was a successful initial attempt in encouraging museums to tackle the challenging issues of the contemporary world from the museum perspective. There were 41 participants, 10 from the host country and 31 from 16 other countries, mostly Commonwealth from Australia, Africa, U.K., Europe, North America, the Caribbean. Gender balance was 21 women and 20 men.
The purpose of the seminar was to look at the ways that museums can promote and support peace and the strengthening of democracy and good governance in all parts of the Commonwealth and globally, and to develop a visionary statement and action plan to realize concrete results in the promotion and support of peace and democracy through museums.
While the topic is somewhat controversial as some museum professionals do not see the role of museums in this way, at the same time there is very strong interest from those who feel museums need to be part of the concerns of their societies.
The theme was diverse and very broad and the presentations and discussions illustrated several facts: the diversity of circumstances around the Commonwealth relating to the theme, a common basic general understanding of the ideas of peace and democracy and governance but very different understandings of both what those terms mean in practice and how to go about moving from the generalities to how museums actually can address these issues.
There were some excellent papers on the ideas and principles of peace, democracy and governance, on the question of whether museums have the power and are able to act on these issues, and on the practical applications of dealing with issues of peace, conflict and reconciliation, instituting democratic processes, and working with diversity in the community.
In addition to the theme introduction, there were:
- two examples of museum work with a society in conflict (Northern Ireland)
- an outline of UNESCO's Culture of Peace project
- three discussions on the power and ability of museums to act as agents of change because of their nature and structure
- two descriptions of professional development courses relating to the theme (Croatia and South Africa)
- one discussion of the complexity of developing democratic structures (Nigeria)
- several papers, including some of the above, which treated the museum's role in fostering understanding of different cultures and circumstances within the community
- several papers which described ways in which museums could promote peace and democracy
Participants were asked to develop a statement of principles and an action plan. The result was the Bridgetown Declaration which forms some guiding principles and an strategic action plan.
- While some of the more ambitious activities associated with the Bridgetown Declaration have not yet been implemented several things have happened. One of the ongoing efforts stated was to keep the issues of peace and democracy in front of the museum community with papers and presentations encouraging a closer look at what several museums have been able to achieve on this topic.
- A brief article on this program has appeared in the November 1999 issue of The Common Path, a paper was presented by the Secretary-General on "The Role of Museums in the Creation of Peace" at ICTOP (International Committee for the Training of Personnel of the International Council of Museums) in London at the beginning of July, 1999, an article appeared in Muse, the journal of the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) and a paper was presented at the CMA conference in Prince Edward Island in May 2000. Another short article appeared in the ICOM Canada newsletter.
- Currently CAM is organizing a Children's Peace Exhibit "What Peace Means to Me". The preliminary "art contest" has been completed and the selection of art work has been made with a few last decisions to be completed as the exhibition development and text is being finalized. The selection has been made taking into consideration artistic merit, originality and clarity of expression about ideas of peace. With this exhibit, CAM will participate in the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World. The exhibit is currently in process and will begin its tour in late fall 2003.
- The Peace initiatives continue with this program in Liverpool and its overall look at global concerns and how they relate to local museum missions.
- Echoing the brief study tour in South Africa and the subsequent report, a slightly different activity took place following the Barbados meeting. The Workshop on Developing Museum Policy, Guyana, May 1999 was held in Guyana immediately following the main seminar. The President and Secretary General were invited to visit Guyana for a few days and were hosted by the government who operates most of the museums in that country. The main museums in Georgetown were visited and a two-day workshop was held to introduce the topic of national and operating museum policies to the group of participants from the major museums, the National Archives and the National Library. The President also gave a public lecture on "The Role of the Museum in Society".
- A Workshop Report was prepared for the Guyana participants following this event. While not as much progress has been made on some of the issues as might have been liked, certainly some forward steps have been taken.
Group for Children in African Museums
In November 1997, CAM held a workshop in Nairobi entitled: Children in African Museums: The Undiscovered Audience. The workshop was very successful and an article appeared in Museum International. One result of the workshop was the formation of the Group for Children in African Museums (GCAM) a network of participants 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.
In many ways, this program was the most successful CAM program to that date even though it was mainly regional in intent and scope. It had the largest number of participants for a CAM program (43) from fifteen Commonwealth countries and the United States. A significant amount of funding was raised directly or indirectly to support the program, and it attracted considerable attention. Besides the article in The Common Path, an article has appeared in the GEM Newsletter in the UK (Museum Educators), in the Alberta Museums Review, and one in Museum International, No 202, April - June, 1999. Inquiries and comments have been received from individual museum professionals about the program.
This event was hosted by the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. "Children in African Museums: the Undiscovered Audience" was a six-day event highlighting the museums relationship with children and the need to listen to children themselves, their parents, teachers, and care-givers in developing programs for children and youth in rural and urban, school and non-school environments.
A strong statement of intent and vision for children in African museums, called the Nairobi Declaration, was drawn up by the participants to guide GCAM and clearly express the direction for others.
The CAM Bulletin reports on the activities of GCAM and an initial package of over 100 pages of material describing children's programs and activities in about 10 African countries, the UK and USA was sent to all participants. It was followed-up with another similar package in 2000.
"The Friendly Museum: Managing Children's Programs in African Museums", Nairobi, September 2-9, 2001 was the second workshop for the Group for Children in African Museums (GCAM) and was a very successful one. It included 50 participants, 31 from Kenya, 19 from elsewhere, with about the same number of women and men. The progress in experience and skill was evident in the participants who had joined the first workshop and the general level of expertise had been increased since the first workshop in 1997. In this workshop a little more attention was paid to fund-raising, evaluation of programs and techniques for management as well as reviewing program development. Children, parents and teachers were brought in as previously and emphasis was again placed on interaction with the community, particularly children, but also parents, teachers, and those who work with children.
The Programme for Museum Development in Africa (PMDA)* one of CAM's partners held a planning workshop in 2001 to look at continuing the work on museums and children and have chosen it as an ongoing focus for PMDA. GCAM members were involved in the deliberations. The program will continue and expand to include other initiatives although these have not been specifically defined as yet. CAM continued to support the activity in a different way with an intern at PMDA in 2001-2002.
The Internship Program described below is helping to continue the momentum of this GCAM program. A Manual for Children and Museums will be produced.
*name now changed to CHDA, Centre for Heritage Development in Africa.
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (1997-2000) & Department of Canadian Heritage (2000-2003) Canada
This program as it applies to museums is administered through the Canadian Museums Association (CMA). It provides funds to assist Canadian young people to undertake international youth internships. The internship is designed to assist the interns, the host museum and CAM.
CAM was successful in obtaining two interns in 1997-8, four interns for six months each in 1998-9, two for Barbados (Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS) and Museums Association of the Caribbean) and one each for Botswana and Kenya to undertake work in children's education to support CAM's Group for Children in African Museums.
In Barbados, Caroline Lanthier worked with a colleague in the Barbados Museum's Education Dept. to initiate a community museum in an historic area of the island "Holetown". They successfully interviewed and involved the local residents, especially long time residents in the creation of the museum. This intern was also able to assist in the co-ordination of "Museums, Peace and Democracy".
The two African interns worked with the host museums in their Education departments and assisted with the development of children's programs or activities. In Botswana several activities and components were developed in collaboration by Colleen Bauman, including a "kids culture magazine". In Kenya, Andrea Gumpert worked with a Kenyan colleague, Elizabeth Ouma, to develop a program for young children called "Kumbu Kumbu".
The second intern in Barbados, Jonathan Murphy, was successful in developing a website for MAC and helping to organize their annual conference in November 1998. He also worked on the development and delivery of a collections survey for Caribbean museums.
In 1999, CAM was successful in obtaining two interns in the 1999-2000 program, Joanne Gillespie in Pilgrim's Rest, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, and Jennifer Frederickson at the National Art Museum in Maputo, Mozambique.
Both again supported CAM's Group for Children in African Museums (GCAM) program. Several reports and articles were produced by the interns and the Secretary General for the CAM Bulletin, for the GCAM members and for the Canadian museum community, national and provincial, and one article in NMK Horizons (National Museums of Kenya).
In 2000, two interns were engaged under the 2000-2001 program. This time the internships were received through the Department of Canadian Heritage, another sponsoring department. Laura Madokoro was located with the Programme for Museum Development (PMDA) in Mombasa, Kenya, a successor to ICCROM-PREMA, now with headquarters in Africa. She assisted with office set-up, administration, promotion and public relations, and planning and logistics for PMDA programs.
A second intern, Jennifer Carlile, continued the work of previous interns with the Group for Children in African Museums in the Education Department of the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery in Gaborone, Botswana.
Tracy Hammond and Nina Berkhout were placed at PMDA in Mombasa, Kenya and in Long Island in the Bahamas respectively. Tracy was able to assist with the PMDA focus on planning for children and museums and did significant work in the development of the PMDA website. Nina was the first intern to visit the Bahamas and spent five months primarily on Long Island helping to set up the community museum there and engaging in collections, exhibition and small gift shop set-up as well as some program development.
In 2002-3, three interns were approved for CAM: Sharain Jones for the Bahamas (Nassau and San Salvador Island), Adrienne Desjardine for the Copperbelt Museum in Ndola, Zambia and Mindy Myers for the Nairobi Museum once again to assist with the education program and GCAM.
The internships have been very beneficial to CAM in its work and have enabled the interns to gain experience in museums and the international museum community. It is an excellent program to give young people a perspective of museum work not achievable by working only in one's home country and all of the interns have valued this experience highly.
CAM has proposed internships which deal primarily with ongoing projects or areas of interest that form themes for CAM. Thus there have been six interns for GCAM with another to come, three have worked on community museums, two on the Distance Learning Program and CAM information bases, two on websites, and the remaining two on helping to develop a new museum of science and technology in Zambia and building capacity at PMDA.
In most instances the work has gone well in the host countries and projects have been accomplished that would not otherwise have been possible. There have been a few difficulties with resources which inhibited the work achieved but the internships have been remarkably successful.
Distance Learning Program
The Commonwealth Association of Museums operates a Distance Learning Program in basic museum studies. It has continued to do so since 1989 and has experienced increasing demand for this training.
CAM held a review meeting of the Distance Learning Program in July 1997. It was decided to undertake both a preliminary revision of the current program and look towards a fully re-developed program within a few years.
The interim revision was completed in 1998-9 and 13 students began in 1999. Three more began in the fall of 2000. Four more began in 2001 and five have started in 2002. An additional student has just begun. Six have graduated and four more are virtually completed and four are well underway. A number have run into logistical problems but several of these are expected to be able to continue and complete the course. Three students in the current group are those who have been working with the interns and The National Museum of the Bahamas to develop the community museums on Long Island and San Salvador.
The administration of the program returned to the CAM Secretariat in January 2001 and has produced considerably more work especially with the increased number of students. The routine is gradually becoming smoother and should be improved considerable in the next months. The major revision in the Distance Learning Program will begin as soon as funding permits. The University of Victoria continues to collaborate in the various stages and they will be included in the development process. ICCROM in Rome has been helpful throughout CAM's program review and they have contributed one of the new texts for the current program. It is likely that they may collaborate further. There are possibilities for several other partners.
Cultural Property Project
This project was supported by the Foundation Activity grant provided in 2001. It was begun with some background information and contacts with ICOM and with the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in Cambridge which has been focusing on the illicit traffic aspect of cultural property. These activities have helped to define the project but much more needs to be done to establish a better implementation plan.
The meeting scheduled for July 19 in Liverpool will carry this planning aspect forward. While CAM was not able to enlist participation now from UNESCO, a member of ICOM UK and senior manager at National Museums Liverpool will attend. These contacts have been made and it is expected to discuss the project in greater detail with both parties within the next few months.
Some obstacles have been encountered in developing this program so it is not as far along as we would have wished. Initially the individual who was to undertake some of the background research had to withdraw due to a number of family problems. Through conversations with both CAM members and others mentioned above, it has become apparent that there is not a common agreement on what aspects of the subject CAM can most effectively pursue to make a positive contribution to the topic. There is no question that our position as a Commonwealth Association is important in what we can accomplish and that we can produce a reference document that will be useful to Commonwealth and other museums.
Fund raising to augment the Foundation funds will be necessary to complete the project properly and we will be able to plan more effectively for that purpose after initial meetings.
CAM intends to catch up on the publications from conferences. The Botswana papers are first on the list and Museums, Peace, Democracy and Governance in the 21st Century will be next on the formal publishing agenda. Some of the GCAM reports and the Manual will be addressed less formally and we hope to get back to regular publication of the Bulletin soon.
International Co-operation & Partnerships
In June 1996, the Secretary General attended at a small meeting at ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) in Rome. The President was there in his capacity as PREMA consultant and also representing the West African Museums Programme as well as CAM. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together museum organizations working in Africa to look at the training needs of the museums in Africa and consider how best to work together to support and reach our common goals. This represented a practical application of CAM's intent to work with others to discuss common concerns and meet common objectives.
This association with ICCROM-PREMA begun in Rome has been beneficial and we believe will become more so as we work together. PREMA has contributed scholarship money for their graduates to undertake the CAM distance learning program.
The successor to ICCROM-PREMA is PMDA, Programme for Museum Development in Africa, and is now based in Mombasa, Kenya.
CAM has continued this beginning by working with PMDA and two interns have been placed with them. We hope it will be possible to add more in future.
We have also continued to work with ICCROM. They have been involved with the revision of the Distance Learning Program contributing their expertise to the Review Meeting and as part of the Committee to oversee the revision. Contributions have been made through scholarships and text materials.
ICCROM also assisted both their graduates and CAM with support for two delegates to the first Nairobi Workshop, one to the second and several African delegates to the Barbados meeting.
ICCROM will be working with CAM in regard to the Cultural Property project.
The Commonwealth Association of Museums was highly honoured in 1999-2000 by being admitted as an Associate Member by the Council of ICCROM, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, in Rome, Italy. ICCROM is an inter-governmental organization. This collaboration recognizes CAM's shared commitment to ICCROM's "purpose of deep commitment to the preservation of cultural heritage" and its efforts to "boost activities in the areas of training, research, documentation and awareness."
In keeping with the stated objectives of CAM to work with other international organizations, the Commonwealth Association of Museums became an affiliated organization of the International Council of Museums following the ICOM Executive Council meeting of November, 1996. The President, Emmanuel N. Arinze of Nigeria, has able to attend the Advisory Committee meeting on several occasions and also ICOM general meetings.
CAM has also established relationships with WAMP, SADCAMM and AFRICOM. While no formal collaborations have yet taken place and communication has been uneven, it is anticipated that activities can be planned in the near future. The Pacific Islands Museums Association (PIMA) is also a potential partner and the Secretary General was recently able to speak to the Secretary and President at the opening of a major exhibition dealing with the culture of the South Pacific and done jointly with the University of British Columbia, Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.
In March of this year CAM was incorporated under the federal government of Canada. The terms of the incorporation were approved by the Executive Council as an interim step and the details are presented to the Business Meeting here in Liverpool. The text will be sent to all paid up members for review and approval during the next few months.
An inspiring highlight of 1997 was the acceptance by two pre-eminent international statesmen of CAM's invitation to be Patrons: His Excellency Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa, and Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth and currently a prominent member of international governance, environmental and developmental commissions and initiatives.
CAM Cowrie Circle
Time has also been devoted to a plan to honour prominent museum people of the Commonwealth especially those who have contributed to the Association and to museum development in their own countries and internationally. We are very pleased that Dr. Ekpo Eyo, Nigeria, Richard Nunoo, Ghana, Dr. Richard Leakey, Kenya, Sadashiv Gorakshkar, India, Desmond Nicholson, Antigua, Patricia MacDonald, Australia, Duncan Cameron, Canada, and Mwimanji Chellah, Zambia have accepted this honour. Denis Williams of Guyana and Keith Thomson of New Zealand are both members (deceased) who were aware of and accepted the honour before their untimely passing.
Gael de Guichen was added to this distinguished list for his contributions to conservation in Commonwealth countries in the course of his time at ICCROM.
Cowrie pins are presented in person (and only in person) when the opportunity allows and there will be two presentations made at the CAM dinner at Liverpool.
CAM was able to establish a website in 1999 with the kind assistance and support of the Maltwood Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Victoria and Martin Segger, its Director. CAM is very grateful for the site development and technical maintenance of the website. The URL is http://uvic.maltwood.ca/cam. The website needs significant attention to make it a useful and up-to-date tool.
Emerging Themes of the Commonwealth Association of Museums
Perhaps the most important results of the last few years have been the emergence of CAM's themes of relevance and partnership. The work that CAM has undertaken has been primarily in the area of the relationships of museums to their communities and society. From the emphasis on indigenous perspectives with the Belize workshop and the Victoria symposium, through the work with children and museums and including the current program, the underlying thread has been the museum within its society and part of the important issues of our time, cultural equity and human rights, all in the context of our cultural and natural heritage.
The previous work has been carried forward through the Triennial meetings in Barbados and here in Liverpool, the continuing work with GCAM and the work with the internships in the development of community museums. It is a foundation for a continuing encouragement to Commonwealth museums and museum professionals to get involved and provide enlightened understanding and meaningful support to their communities.
Future plans to be discussed in the Execute Council meetings will include completion of the Distance Learning Program major revision over the next two years, publications of a number of Proceedings and Bulletins, continuing follow-up to the Nairobi workshop and the Group for Children in African Museums and the follow-up for Museums, Peace, Democracy and Governance. New initiatives will be determined in line with the themes.
Emmanuel N. Arinze