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icamprint 06 | editorial | letter from the president |
> icamprint 06 (5.2 MB – complete file)

letter from the president
In November 2015, UNESCO published its Recommendation Concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, their Diversity and their Role in Society. Many of these recommendations — ‘equal opportunities for education for all’, ‘the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth’, ‘the free exchange of ideas and knowledge’, ‘an ever-increasing role in stimulating creativity’, ‘providing opportunities for creative and cultural industries’ and ‘contributing to the material and spiritual well-being of citizens across the world’ — have been at the forefront of the minds of your Executive Committee as we debate the present and future for architectural museums.

As the representative of icam on the ICOM (International Council of Museums) Advisory Committee, I present our work and engage in discussions, such as the one that contributed to the UNESCO Recommendation.

As architectural museums, we face challenges when our institutions take on new forms, often in new territories. We are tackling the preservation and presentation of the digital in our collections, considering our relationship with the creative industries and, most predominantly of all, reappraising and revolutionising our relationships with the public. In my own institution — now called Historic Environment Scotland — we have grown tenfold in both remit and staff, which has challenged all our notions of priority, public and purse-strings.

Following a stimulating debate, the Executive Committee identified a virtuous circle. In this circle, which has no defined beginning or end, architectural museums undertake and facilitate research from a critical position; selectively and systematically collect and preserve for the future; present our research, position and collection; and identify, interact with, and grow our audiences. Architecture museums provide the stimulation for critical debate, defending and promoting the value of architecture, and working to ensure that our collections are available to all who want to enjoy and learn from them. We do all of this in changing political, economic, urban and social contexts.

This virtuous circle is what we will explore at icam18 Ljubljana, where we aim to advance our understanding of the potential of this interdependent cycle, and where we will explore what models of structure and organisation serve it most effectively. In addition to considering the different forms our member institutions take now and in the future, we must also consider the form of icam itself. As an Executive Committee we are expending much effort on what underpins and shapes us as an organisation — exploring how to give icam a firmer legal, administrative and financial footing — and seeking to modernise aspects of our governance.

This issue of icamprint exemplifies the virtuous circle, focussing as it does on exhibitions: their basis in research and collections, how they are shaped by the individuals and institutions that curate them, and the audiences that they engage. As UNESCO states, ‘museums are vital public spaces that should address all of society... building citizenship, and reflecting on collective identities. They can constitute spaces for reflection and debate on historical, social, cultural and scientific issues.’ Through collaboration and innovation, we can work to ensure that all our members are at the forefront of museum practice, whatever their scale and structure.
Rebecca Bailey, president