Each year, ICOM chooses a socially relevant theme for International Museum Day (IMD).
The theme chosen for 2017 is "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums".
History is a vital tool for defining a given people's identity, and each of us defines ourselves through important and fundamental historic events. Contested histories are unfortunately not isolated traumatic events. These histories, which are often little known or misunderstood, resonate universally, as they concern and affect us all.
Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums display and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences.
By focusing on the role of museums as hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, this theme highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.
By mediating and expressing multiple points of view, museums play a role in peacefully addressing traumatic histories – while still sharing knowledge of the past and giving it meaning to help us understand the world today. Museums therefore become tools for teaching universal values and help create a common destiny among different, peaceful geopolitical spaces.
This theme therefore highlights the significant contribution of museums in modern society. Museums ask fundamental questions about any society by providing tools that encourage critical reflection on the issues of memory that shape it or tear it apart. Using a variety of museum methods and different ways of displaying contested histories offers tools for the critical appropriation and acceptance of the past and the establishment of a dialogue to help reconcile memories.
Regarding the IMD 2017 theme
To help you to deal with this particularly tricky yet really inspiring subject, ICOM set up a scientific committee of acknowledged experts on the subject.
Please, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org