Prof. Dr Hans-Martin Hinz
To the participants of ICOM Russia, ICOM Germany and ICOM USA’s joint conference “Museum and Politics” 9-14 September, 2014, Saint-Petersburg – Yekaterinburg, Russia
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to participate in the ICOM Russia, ICOM Germany and ICOM USA joint conference “Museums and Politics.” This is a very important topic, and one that I have focused on a great deal in my work.
The theme “Museums and Politics” is vast – evoking topics that range from museums’ representation of collective memory and their relationships with local communities and visitors, to their influence on cultural and financial policy on both a domestic and international level.
It is important for museums to discuss the role of contemporary museums with regard to politics in this current climate of rapid social and economic change.
Through exhibitions about culture and the past, museums are in a position to help society transition into this new context, presenting perspectives for the future and allowing visitors to find answers to the questions raised by contemporary society. When museum visitors learn about their past, where they come from, and how other cultures have developed, this contributes to the formation of identity and helps us to construct a path forward.
Looking back into history, in times of crisis, cultural policies very often supported not only the establishment of new types of museums, but also new formats of public education.
Unfortunately, in the context of the current global crisis, this has not always been the case. Funding the protection of natural and cultural heritage is indispensable to the development of society, and especially necessary in times of crisis. Yet many museums around the world are struggling to fund their activities and even to keep their doors open. Museums must find solutions to these contemporary challenges and this joint conference on “Museums and politics” will be a perfect opportunity to do so.
This meeting will bring together museum professionals from around the world to discuss a theme of great significance for museums and for society as a whole. I am very much looking forward to the fruitful discussions and innovative solutions that it will generate.
On behalf of the International Council of Museums, I would like to thank ICOM Russia, ICOM Germany and ICOM USA for their initiative and collaboration in organising this event. It promises to be a very productive and inspiring conference.