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.
Moscow City Museum, Moscow, 2-4 September 2015
Keynote Speaker: Morris Vogel, President of Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York City
CAMOC was set up in Moscow in 2005 and it is to Moscow we are returning for our tenth anniversary conference. The theme is Memory and Migration. Please join us. Click here for more conference details, including the conference programme.
Le Musée de Ville: histoire et actualités, Jean-Louis Postula, La Documentation Française, Paris 2015
This is a new book about city museums just published by our colleague Jean-Louis Postula. It is about the history and reality of city museums. Jean-Louis is one of the few people who have researched this unique field.
BerlinThe museum of the street
CopenhagenAt the Museum of Copenhagen
Cities, people and their cultures under siege
Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen 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. What remained of the museum as it celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2014.
Donetsk is yet another city to suffer the consequences of war. Consider 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 Universty. 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 August 2015: Submission deadline for CAMOC newsletter
2-4 September 2015: CAMOC annual conference, Moscow