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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EU-LAC-MUSEUMS (Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-02-28

EU-LAC-MUSEUMS: Concepts, Experiences and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean brings together a consortium of museum experts through the networks of the European and Latin American Regional Alliances of ICOM ( We are a team of academics, museum professionals and policy makers working in Scotland, Portugal, Spain, France, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica and the Caribbean who are committed to community museology making a difference in the world.

The aim of our research is to provide a better understanding of the cultural, scientific and social dimension of the relationship between the EU and LAC, thus supporting the process of EU-CELAC cooperation outlined by the EU-CELAC Action Plan in defining a common vision for the years to come.

The project is Coordinated by the University of St Andrews in Scotland [].

EU-LAC-MUSEUMS seeks to carry out a comparative analysis of small to medium-sized rural museums and their communities in the EU and LAC regions, and to develop associated history and theory. The basis of the project is that community museums in Latin American and Caribbean countries in particular allow under-represented communities to stake a place in history, as well as contributing to environmental sustainability and community empowerment. Over 48 months, researchers are investigating how these institutions can inform museum practice, particularly for remote and island locations. Museums involved include Ceumannan - Skye Ecomuseum in Scotland, and the Rey Curré Museo Comunitario in Costa Rica, run by the native Boruca people. Both are open-air museums encouraging visitors to explore the natural landscape and traditional structures. Here, young people have been working together to carry out oral history projects with community elders, and debate the theme of societal change.

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, EU-LAC-MUSEUMS is creating a common vision for sustainable, small to medium-sized local and regional museums and their communities, and reinforcing mutual understanding and cooperation between regions.

The 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.
The EU-LAC-MUSEUMS project plan of action falls into the following four areas of EU-CELAC enquiry: a) Technology and Innovation for Bi-Regional Integration; b) Museums for Social Inclusion and Cohesion; c) Fostering Sustainable Community Museums; d) Exhibiting Migration and Gender

Our bespoke project website and database ( harvests information about community museums and related Intangible Cultural Heritage in each partner country and beyond in EU and LAC.

Major results include Chile's report on the ubiquitous “Round Table of Santiago de Chile” (1972), measuring its relevance today and specifically in relation to the Region of Los Rios. Having developed their work plan, Peru, following devastating floods in the remote parts in which they are working, recovered to work closely with a diagnosis for Trujillo and Lambayeque to develop two models of intervention. Similarly in Spain, the ETEPA team researched the design of a comprehensive Strategic Plan relating to landscape, cultural heritage, tourism and territorial development in La Huerta de València. Bi-regional 3D workshops have toured the entire consortium, facilitating workshops in community museums and digitising “community icons”. The consortium continues to consolidate as a bi-regional team. St Andrews held the project second General Assembly and an international conference on Defining the Museum of the 21st Century in collaboration with ICOM ICOFOM. They have worked closely with Chile to engage students and school pupils with Latin American museum objects. Collaboration between Peru, Chile and Spain has also facilitated sharing research approaches and methodologies concerning entrepreneurship and innovation for heritage territories. Meanwhile, the UWI has forged ahead on research into migration and gender, producing a traveling exhibition on Windrush, and collaborating with St Andrews on a Virtual Museum of Caribbean Migration, and a new exhibition of contemporary Caribbean art, Arrivants.
"Impacts from our research are therefore affecting all levels, from society, to academia, to policy, by means of community empowerment through museums. Achieving a new model of museum-based sustainability, taking particular account of local development through strategic planning, and involving all levels - from policy makers, to local governments, to the local population - has been the priority of much of our research. 2017 saw the voyage of 12 European young people from Scotland and Portugal across the Atlantic to Costa Rica, and 2018 saw the voyage of 12 Costa Ricans to Europe. Discovering the traditional cultures of rural communities, community-based museums opened their doors to the young people through music, dance, crafts, and exchange of ideas about topics such as community development, memory and identity. A resource pack from the exchange and testimonials are available on the project website. Young people in each country have begun to think more critically about the impact of tourism on their native territories, with a number of young people taking on new leadership roles within their communities and schools, inspired by their new ""Vision for Change"". In this reporting period, the project has also produced a draft ICOM Resolution on Museums, Community and Sustainability drafted by the project coordinator together with project Steering Committee members who are Presidents of ICOM Europe and ICOM LAC, and refined by all project partners and the international ecomuseum network. The document marks the common vision built between our partners in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean for community-based museums, and their need for greater levels of research, recognition and support."
The Santa Rosa First People’s Community Museum, Trinidad and Tobago.
Peru Workshops, Peru
Museo Neltulme, Chile
Costa Rican young person with EU flag, Scotland.
Boruca Community Museum, Costa Rica.
Hearing with el Tribunal de las Aguas. Huerta de València.
Book on Community and Sustainable Museums.
Boruca village elder and Scottish young person, Costa Rica.
Young people form Rey Curre take part in workshops in the local high school.
Home page of the web portal available in:
3D Testing the 360 Degree Camera Outdoors at Charles Town, Jamaica.
Lecture given in Cortes de Pallás, València to local actors.
EU-LAC-MUSEUMS Education Pack.
3D images of artefacts in the Barbados Museum collection stored on the Sketchfab platform.
EU-LAC-MUSEUMS Youth Exchange Collage of EU to LAC.