The cornerstone of ICOM is its ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums. It sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff. In joining the organisation, ICOM members undertake to abide by this Code.
You don't have to work in a city museum to join CAMOC. We welcome anyone who cares about cities—not only urban curators but also academics, urban planners, artists, archivists, and citizens. Please become a member today. Your contribute is invaluable to our network. Click here for more information.
Check out our affiliate website, Museum of the City, spearheaded by CAMOC member Chet Orloff. It's a virtual museum of city culture, features, issues, and history that collects online exhibits submitted by citizens the world over.
In der asphalt stadt ich bin daheim Bertolt Brecht
In the asphalt city I am at home
CAMOC's artefacts are the city and its people—their past history, their present and their future. It is a forum for those who work in museums about cities, but also for all those involved and interested in urban life: historians, urban planners, architects, economists, or citizens, all of whom can exchange knowledge and ideas across national frontiers.
Our annual reports—click on Activities—describe our work, who we are, and where we come from across the world. On the same link we describe some of the projects we are involved in. In addition, day to day news items, comment and discussion take place on our active Facebook and LinkedIn sites.
Ten years together : Десять лет вместе
The theme of CAMOC's 10th anniversary conference was Memory and Migration, the City and its Museum. We looked at the impact of migration on cities, the memories that migrants carry with them of a life left behind, cultural and social inclusion, and ways in which city museums have responded, and can respond, to the current crisis, one of the most tragic events of the 21st century. In keeping with our theme we visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre. It was a sobering experience: migration, persecution, intolerance - and tolerance - are nothing new. We have been there before.
Migrants in Röszke, Hungary September 2015. Courtesy Reuters
Of course, there were other events such as workshops on re-defining city museums, on networking and on creating collaborative projects - and excursions to a string of places. We will publish more about the conference shortly, but in the meantime you can click here to see the conference programme.
Музeй Москвы - музей о городе и горожанах. Всё o москве вчера, сегодня, завтрa. The Museum of Moscow - a museum about the city and its citizens. All about Moscow, yesterday, today and tomorrow. www.mosmuseum.ru
The conference took place at the Museum of Moscow, across the Moscow River from Gorky Park. The building is one of the city's finest examples of the Empire Style, built in 1829-1835 by Vasily Stasov and Fyodor Shestakov. The Museum is being developed at great pace and with great flair and imagination by the Director, Alina Saprykina and her colleagues. We need hardly add that they gave us a very memorable conference.
Из Москвы c любовью: From Moscow with love.
Our friends at the Museum lined a wall of the conference room with a graphic illustration of our first ten years with details of each of our conferences. We have come a long way in a short time.
A new publication by our colleague, Jean-Louis Postula. A definitive account of city museums.
Le Musée de Ville, Jean-Louis Postula, Le document français, Paris 2015
Cities, people and cultures under siege
Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen Heinrich Heine
That was just a prelude. Where they burn books they will end up burning people.
The consequences of war: Donetsk City and Regional Museum, Ukraine. This is what remained of the museum as it celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2014. In the same year, on the 6th of August, the great photojournalist Андрей Стенин|Andrei Stenin was killed not far from the Museum. He was 34 years of age. Светлая память|We cherish his memory. A museum can be re-built, but not a human life.
Donetsk is just one city to suffer. Consider the cities of Syria:
"2 March 2015 - Nimrud destroyed;
6 March 2015, Hatra destroyed;
9 March 2015, Khorsabad destroyed [i.e. the fourth capital of the Assyrians]".
From a record kept by Amir al-Jumaili, antiquities professor at Mosul University. Quoted by Nicholas Pelham in The New York Review of Books June 4-24 2015.
The link below is a complete record of a conference in London, Culture in Crisis, organised in April by the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It gives a vivid and depressing account of the destruction of irreplaceable artefacts and historic city sites in Syria, Iraq, Afganistan, Mali and countries across the world. Where are the relics of the great Assyrian city of Nimrud now? Gone, destroyed by ISIS. Dur-Sharrukin, the ancient capital city of Nineveh has been ransacked, artefacts in the museum in Mosul have been looted or destroyed, and that started in 2003. So it goes on. There are presentations on the practical role museums can play and recommendations for action.
The destruction continues, as it always has, and we seem powerless. Military intervention? It is easy to demand, but who will volunteer? Also, at least in the Middle East, intervention has mixed results. Yet, what happens to ancient cities and their monuments, our common heritage, happens in the end to people.
The Hague Convention of 1954 created rules to protect universal cultural heritage in times of war and it has its practical face in the work in a number of international organisations including Blue Shield: www.ancbs.org This web site gives a comprehensive summary of the Convention and the work of these organisations.
PalmyraPalmyra, Syria, another ancient city like Nimrud, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, now a public execution site for ISIS. Photo courtesy BBC
"Palmyra exerted a decisive influence on the evolution of neoclassical architecture and modern urbanisation." *UNESCO. Destroying it "would kill a piece of the soul of Syria...It would also destroy something that belongs to the whole world." Rowan Moore, The Observer May 17 2015. ISIS has already blown up the Baalshamin temple, one of the site's most complete buildings.
ISIS destroys artefacts, but above all it specialises in killing people:
August 19 2015: Khaled al-Asaad the archaeologist who looked after Palmyra for 40 years has been killed by ISIS and his body hung from a column in the ancient city he loved and to which he devoted his working life. According to the BBC, militants had tried to extract information from him about where some of Palmyra's treasures had been hidden to save them from destruction. He spent most of his life promotIng and protecting Palmyra and was the greatest living authority on the city. He has been described as a world class archaeologist and one of the most important pioneers in Syrian archaeology of the 20th Century. He was a member of ICOM.
unite4heritage We may have no firepower, but we are not without the ability to do something. UNESCO builds "coalitions for culture" by co-ordinating the work of the various partners such as the armed forces, Interpol, national governments - and museums. It has set up a web site which focuses on the Arab region where so much of the worst destruction is taking place. It sets out ways in which museums can get involved and try and make a difference: www.unite4heritage.org The site is invaluable. See also the ICOM web site which describes ICOM's work in conflict zones and in disaster relief: www.icom.museum
"One can feel helpless but we should try to do something" Zaki Aslan, a director of ICCROM, the UN-backed body that works to conserve cultural heritage.
There are heroic museum staff and local people on the ground, in cities from Timbuktu to Sarajevo who have risked their lives to save their heritage. But what else? UNESCO estimates that 2,000 archaeological sites are under ISIS control. According to Irina Bukova, UNESCO's Secretary General, "it is safe to assume that the trade in conflict antiquities from Syria and Iraq represents millions of dollars for violent extremist groups." Antiquities end up in the hands of dealers, and collectors via trafficking routes. We can do something about that. The UN could also at the very least rule that the destruction of heritage, the destruction of cities like these, is a war crime.
KathmanduThe Dharahara tower, Kathmandu before and after. Courtesy BBC
"The world-famous Kathmandu Valley has a concentration of monuments unique and unparalleled in the world...and is a prime cultural focus of the Himalaya." *UNESCO
The earthquakes in Nepal are a human tragedy with a dreadful loss of life which is the first concern of relief agencies world-wide.
The first earthquake in particular has also had massive impact on Nepal’s cultural heritage. Bijan Rouhani of ICOMOS-Blue Shield has asked us to circulate these links to help collect information about damaged or destroyed cultural heritage sites across the country.
*Information about World Heritage sites, the World Heritage Convention and UNESCO's World Heritage mission is on:
European Museum of the Year Award 2015: Glasgow, Scotland.
This year the ceremony was held at the Zaha Hadid and Buro Happold designed Transport Museum in Scotland's largest city. The overall winner for 2015 is the Rijskmuseum, Amsterdam. You can check out the full details and a list of all the other winners in different categories on http://www.europeanmuseumforum.info
The European Museum Forum organises this annual event, and is committed to quality, creativity and innovation in museums in Europe. Its chair is Goranka Horjan, Croatia.
30 November 2015: newsletter submission deadline
1 March 2016: newsletter submission deadline
30 May 2016: newsletter submission deadline
30 August 2016: newsletter submission deadline