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Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EU-LAC-MUSEUMS (Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2021-01-31

Museums hold an unequalled responsibility to communicate the shared history and “cultural, political and economic ties” between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Museums have enormous capacity to reach all levels of community, from towns to remote villages, and can be neutral spaces for building social cohesion and reconciliation in a variety of contexts. By focusing on the theme of “Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean”, the EU-LAC Museums project (September 2016 – January 2021) has created a common vision for community-based museums, and reinforced mutual understanding and cooperation between regions in line with the aims of Horizon 2020 INT12 (2015), and the EU-CELAC Action Plan.

We are a consortium of 35 academics, museum professionals and policy makers working in Scotland, Portugal, Spain, France, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica and the Caribbean, brought together through the networks of the European and Latin American Regional Alliances of ICOM (

The project overall objectives are to:

1: Increase the knowledge area of EU-CELAC relations in the museum world by researching the concepts and experiences of sustainability in museums and communities in the two regions, with a special focus on heritage technologies and histories of migration as they relate to these communities.
2: Enhance sustainable development and social inclusiveness in the museum sector in remote rural and island locations through dialogue between academics, policy makers, museums, and local communities.
3: Create a common and sustainable vision for community museums ratified by ICOM, and in line with EU-CELAC and JIRI actions.
4: Make available and to celebrate knowledge generated by the project to all potential users, museum professionals, and decision makers through an ambitious web portal and an extensive dissemination programme.
5: Ensure rigorous evaluation of project methods and outcomes for future EU-LAC platforms, and to build long-term sustainable relationships between institutions in EU and LAC, and especially within our partner countries.
Our international team has amassed new wisdom about museum community development, youth work, and digital curation, to examine and promote a vision of museums focused on community needs across the EU and LAC: now reaching 154 countries with 108,365 people engaging in person or online with the project activities and web portal.

By researching state-of-the-art initiatives in museums and community empowerment, we have created a method of implementation and evaluation applicable to wider regions and delivered new proposals for re-thinking the definition of community museums in ways that accentuate their social role and potential for local development. This articulation has been informed by 125 community workshops held between September 2016 and July 2020 in all partner countries, which have focused on the importance of intangible or ‘living’ heritage transferred between generations, particularly among communities in remote locations, and management in environmental crises. The workshops have reached 31 museum sites involving approximately 27,897 total participants, including museum professionals, local communities and the wider public. Through in-person and Web Portal engagement, our project is now reaching 154 countries with 180,364 people interacting with the project activities and Web Portal, furthermore ca. 1,483,152 people have been reached through social media platforms and traditional media such as television.
EU-LAC Museums’ findings have led directly to the formulation of one of five new ICOM Resolutions that will determine ICOM’s actions and missions over the next three years. Entitled “Museums, Communities, Sustainability”, the Resolution was adopted at the 34th ICOM General Assembly, Kyoto, Japan (7 September 2019). In the words of the Presidents of the regional alliances of ICOM-Europe and ICOM-LAC, the Resolution “marks a moment of change within ICOM and its understanding of the value of community museums for society”.

Highlights of societal impact include:

1) Empowerment through community museum education – notably a transformative Youth Exchange Programme (September 2016 – August 2018), working with the Museos Comunitarios network to engage 7 community museums and 72 young people from Costa Rica, Portugal and Scotland. Participants joined 42 workshops led by 25 volunteers, including community elders, and 23 young people undertook an in-person exchange among regions;
2) Heritage technology training and awareness-raising – community-based co-creation of 3D objects and 360-degree digitization workshops conducted in the partner countries, with results hosted on a website; a training manual on D.I.Y. 3D photogrammetry; and an Open Access database;
3) Intercultural dialogue through Caribbean museums and Higher Education – fine art exhibition, oral history recordings and panels exhibition on Caribbean migration to the UK, travelling between regions, collated into a bespoke, participatory EU-LAC Virtual Museum of Migration and Memory (VMCMH).
4) Regional and bi-regional integration - Chile’s research has measured the relevance of the “Round Table of Santiago de Chile” (1972) for today in the southern Region of Los Rios. Peru, following devastating floods in the remote parts in which they are working, recovered to work closely with Spain through their research models. The Tribunal de las Aguas de València, and Jueces de Corongo - both inscribed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – collaborated in this important exchange.
The Santa Rosa First People’s Community Museum, Trinidad and Tobago.
Peru Workshops, Peru
Barbadian Youth Curator Photogrammetry workshop
Costa Rican young person with EU flag, Scotland.
ICOM Resolution Number 5 Adopted September 2019
Hearing with el Tribunal de las Aguas. Huerta de València.
Boruca village elder and Scottish young person, Costa Rica.
Peru disasters resilience workshop
Peruvian youth heritage workshop
EU-LAC Museums consortium and policy Round Table, 2019
Neltume Cultural Centre, Chile
3D images of artefacts in the Barbados Museum collection stored on the Sketchfab platform.
EU-LAC Museums Youth Exchange Collage of EU to LAC.
Bi-Regional Youth Exchange, 2017
Peruvian and Spanish teams and water judges