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Museum

No 148 (Vol XXXVII, n° 4, 1985)

Images of the ecomuseum


Museum, successor to Mouseion, is published
by the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization in Paris. An inter-
national forum (quarterly) of information and
reflection on museums of all kinds.

No. 148, 1985

Front cover. Conservation and local Back coffer.MUSEDDO PRIMEIRO REINADO, I


participation. The shepherds in the Mont São Cristóväo. This ornamental entrance has
Lozere Ecomuseum and Cévennes National not prevented the community from
Park in southern France actually inhabit the adopting the edifice as its own (see article,
territory, practising ancestral methods of page 237).
land use which make the most of the area's
resources. The ecomuseum attempts to
maintain livestock-moving patterns, to
restore and enhance traditional architecture
and to contribute to agricultural activities.

I ,
Editor: Yudhishthir Raj Isar Authors are responsible for the choice and
Assistant Editor: Marie Josée Thiel the presentation of the facts contained in
Editorial Assistant: Christine Wilkinson their articles and for the opinions expressed
Design: Monika Jost therein, which are not necessarily those of
Unesco and do not commit the Constantly rising printing and postage
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Azedine Bachaouch, Tunisia where reproduction or translation rights are prices. Unfortunately, Mzlsezlm is no
Fernanda de Camargo e Almeida-Moro, reserved), provided that mention is made of exception.
Brazil the author and source. Extracts may be To our great regret therefore we
Patrick D. Cardon, Secretary-General of quoted if due acknowledgement is given. ! '
JCOM, ex-oficio must announce that in 1986 the price
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Alpha Oumar Konaré, Mali The Editor, Museum, I
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Printed in the Netherhnds or corresponding double issues per year):
Smeets Offset (NBI) bv, 's-Hertogenbosch 128 F i i
ages of the eco
(dedicated to the memory of Georges Henri Riuière)

Georges Henri Rivière The ecomuseum-an evolutive definition 182


Editmial 184
Hugues de Varine The wordand beyond 185

IMAGES

François Hubert Ecomuseums in France: contradictions and distortions 186


Jean-Yves Veillard 'The valueless object' 191
Mathilde Bellaigue-
Scalbert Actors in the real world 194
Max Querrien Taking the measwe of the pheizomenon 198
Pierre Mayrand The new museology proclaimed 200

REFRACTIONS

René Rivard Ecomuseums in Quebec 202


Kjell Engström The ecommeum concept is taking root in Sweden 206
António Nabais The development of ecomuseums in Portugal 2 11
John R. Kinard The neighbourhood museum as a catahst for
social change 2 17
Milagro Gomez de Blavia The Barquisimeto Museum: invent or d3. 224
Alpha Oumar Konaré Ecomuseums for the Sahel: a programme 230
Fernanda de Camargo
e Almeida-Moro São Cr&Óvão: a dktn'ct ecomuseum 237
Alfredo Crus-Ramirez The Heimatmuseum: a perverted forerunner 242

Photo creditj ERRATA

Front cover: Parc National des, Cévennes; In the article 'Curators, Teachers and Pupils:
1 , 5-7: Musée de Bretagne, Rennes; 2: Ecomusée de Partners in Creating an Awareness of Modern
la Communauté Le Creusot Montceau-les-Mines;3: Art', by Colette Banaigs, which appeared
J. Tucoo-Chala; 4: J. C. Houssin; 8 , 9: F. Portet; in Museum No. 144 (Vol. XXXVI, No. 4 ,
10: G. Tonneau; 13-17: René Rivard; 18, 20:
1984), the caption for Figure 18 (page 193)
Västerbottens Lans Museet; 21: Hallin; 23: Lars
Jarnemo; 24: Ingrid Bergstrand; 2 5 : Fernando was incorrectly transcribed. The correct cap-
Falcio; 26: Henrique Ruas; 27, 28: Museu do Mér- tion is the following: Painted wooden
tola; 29, Miguel Baliza; 30-32: António Nabais; sculptures made by pupils after a visit to the
33-37: Anacostia Neighborhood Museum; 38: COBRA exhibition prepared in one of the
P. Diaz: 39, 40: E. Gonzblez; 41, 42: Morales; 44: 'teachers' meeting-workshops'. Therefore the
UnescolE. Barrios, B. Galy, S. Robert, A. Voront- reference on page 194 to Alicia Penalba's
zoff; 45, 48: UnescolR. Louchard; 46: UnescolM. sculpture Alada should be ignored.
d'Hoop; 47: Unesco/Philippe Billère; 49-53 and The title of the painting by Modigliani, also
back cover: Fernanda de Camargo e Almeida-Moro;
referred to on page 194, should read Lapetite
54, 5 5 : Nicolas Oudin.
f l l e en bleu.
ISSN 0027-3996
Museum (Unesco, Paris), Vol. XXXVII,
No. 4 , 1985
1
Threshing in Lower Brittany. At the
beginning of the twentieth century, the
peasants violently opposed mechanical
threshers-which they accused of being
noisy, polluting and generally causing a
great number of accidents. Today, however,
such machines are regarded as a symbol of
the ‘good old days’.

The ecomm-egm-azz evolidtive deefizzitionl


Georges Henri Rivière An ecomuseum is an instrument conceived, fashioned and operated jointly by
a public authority and a local population. The public authority’s involvement
is through the experts, facilities and resources it provides; the local popula-
tion’s involvement depends on its aspirations, knowledge and individual ap-
proach.
It is a mirror in which the local population views itself to discover its own
image, in which it seeks an explanation of the territory to which it is attached
and of the populations that have preceded it, seen either as circumscribed in
time or in terms of the continuity of generations. It is a mirror that the local
population holds up to its visitors so that it may be better understood and so
that its industry, customs and identity may command respect.
It is an expression of man and nature. It situates man in his natural environ-
ment. It portrays nature in its wildness, but also as adapted by traditional and
industrial society in their own image.
-
It is an expression of time, when the explanations it offers reach back before
1. This is the third and last version of Georges
the appearance of man, ascend the course of the prehistoric and historical
Henri Rivière’s text, finalized in January 1980. times in which he lived and arrive finally at man’s present. It also offers vistas
of the future, while having no pretensions to decision-making,its function be-
ing rather to inform and critically analyse.
It is an interpretation of space-of special places in which to stop or stroll.
It is a laboratory, in so far as it contributes to the study of the past and pre-
sent of the population concerned and of its environment and promotes the
training of specialists in these fields, in co-operation with outside research
bodies.
It is a conservation centre, in so far as it helps to preserve and develop the
natural and cultural heritage of the population.
It is a school, in so far as it involves the population in its work of study and
protection and encourages it to have a clearer grasp of its own future.
This laboratory, conservation centre and school are based on common prin-
ciples. The culture in the name of which they exist is to be understood in its
broadest sense, and they are concerned to foster awareness of its dignity and
artistic manifestations, from whatever stratum of the population they derive.
Its diversity is limitless, so greatly do its elements vary from one specimen to
another. This triad, then, is not self-enclosed: it receives and it gives.

[ Trunslatedfrom French]
184

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Georges Henri Rivière, a founding


father of the ecomuseum movement, ‘one of the first to perceive the full com-
plexity of the notion of the cultural heritage, its possible extension (and hence
the limits to be sought), its ramifications in domains and epochs hitherto ig-
nored’ .1 Although our tribute to him appeared in the previous issue, M a m m
No. 147, grateful acknowledgements of his pioneering work in France and
throughout the world are so numerous in the pages that follow that we have
chosen to dedicate this special issue to his memory. Indeed, several of the con-
tributing authors have explicitly done so themselves.
.Mr Rivière’s ‘evolutive definition’ of the ecomuseum, its zlr-text as it were,
is reproduced on pages 182-3. This is apoor substitute no doubt for the presen-
tation he himself would have made of his rich and varied progeny, for the kind
of sweeping critical synthesis he carried to a fine art. But at least we can share
with you the comments of another co-founder, Hugues de Varine, who actual-
ly coined the word ‘ecomuseum’.2
Appropriately enough, the idea for this special issue also emerged in France,
from the Ecomuesum of Le Creusot Montceau-les-Mines.The original sugges-
tion of Mathilde Bellaigue-Scalbert, Le Creusot’s director, was to combine a
survey of ecomuseums with a presentation of the ‘new museology’, which ap-
peared on the French museum scene in the 1980s. While all the principles of
‘ecomuseology’ do indeed appear to have been welcomed by the new
museology, the ecomuseum movement is not in fact fully coterminous with
this latter movement of contestation and renewal. Hence we have chosen to
limit ourselves in this issue to ecomuseumsproper, with the exception of Pierre
Mayrand’s contribution, which links the two.
In an historical perspective, could these ecomuseums not be compared to
the great twentieth-century mutations in music and the graphic arts, which
assigned radically new values and combinations to established parameters?
This qualitative transformation of the institution known as a museum has been
the focus of complex and ambitious theorizing about new methods and
1. From an article by Frédéric Edelmann in Le
responsibilities and the debate has spread far beyond France’s sphere of
Monde, 27 March 1985, announcing Georges cultural influence.
Henri Rivière’s death on 24 March. The issue opens with some definitions and assessments, from France and
2. As recounted by Paulette Olcina, Assistant
Secretary-Generalof the International Council of Canada, about the nature and potential of the ecomuseum. It continues with
Museums (ICOM), in a paper entitled reflections and case-studiesfrom other regions, Third World countries in par-
‘Ecomuseums: 1971-1984, An Assessment’ which
she presented at the internationa1,seminarheld at ticular, where the changed vision of the museum and its role seems infinitely
Oaxtepec, Mexico, in October 1984; the word promising for the mobilization of interest and support. ‘A didactic act for
was coined by Hugues de Varine at a lunch with
one of the aides of the then Minister of the ecodevelopment’ was the term used in the Declaration of Oaxtepec adopted
Environment in France. It was at the ninth by an international seminar entitled ‘Territory Heritage -Community
General Conference of ICOM at Grenoble in
1971, where the minister was to make a speech. Ecomuseums: Man and His Environment’, organized in that Mexican town in
Rivière and de Varine had briefed him on the October 1984. And as Alpha Konaré states in his article on page 230 the
new currents in museum work, on the museum
as a didactic instrument, designed to build ecomuseum ‘as a mode of participation and management could constitute a
hcritage awareness, not for apublic but for and major breakthrough in the field of culture and, for that matter, in life in
by a community. Hence the search, successfully
concluded, for a new word. general’.
185

Ecomuseums and ecomuseology ... New incarnations of the museum? Modish Hugues de Varine
neologisms? Alibis for our inability to transform an out-dated institution?
None of these judgements is absolutely true, nor absolutely false either. But
this is not what matters here.
Rather, we should take stock of the thinking, the experiences and the cases
brought together in this long-awaited special issue -all these are precious
signs of a deep-rooted movement in the museum world, one that is still inade-
quately defined and often side-tracked, one that will leave its imprint on the
institution and transform the discipline, without being a radical revolution.
It is rightly pointed out that the two words ‘ecomuseums’ and ‘ecomuseol-
ogy’ have emerged among Latins, who have a taste for the verb and a passion
for discourse. For one who invented the word ecomuseum almost by accident,
its destiny is difficult to comprehend. As for the phenomenon itself, its
substance varies from one place to another, despite the efforts of Georges
Henri Rivière to give it specific form and meaning. In some cases it is an inter-
pretation centre; in others an instrument for development; elsewhere a park
or makeshift museum; yet elsewhere a centre for ethnographic conservation or
for the industrial heritage.
Behind these surface variations there is a simple reality: the museum profes-
sion is anxiously and urgently seeking a renewal of the museum as a necessary
instrument of service to society. To serve a global heritage for global develop-
ment. To serve man in his totality, embedded in nature in its totality, yester-
day and today, seeking above all his future and the intellectual and material
means to master it.
This issue of Mzlsezlm is a marketplace of ideas, utopias and achievements.
It reflects an impassioned debate which goes far beyond those countries where
the ecomuseum earned its credentials. I am impressed by the number and the
quality of the contributions. Regardless of their degree of support for the in-
stitution, they all demonstrate the usefulness of a modern , renovating con-
cept, indeed the need for such a concept. I also think I see, behind certain
awkward formulations due perhaps to the choice of the notion of the
ecomuseum as the sole theme for this issue, the wish of all that the moderniza-
tion of the museum should follow the path laid down by the Santiago round
table in 1972 (the ‘integral museum7)l and by the endeavours of so many
museum professionals everywhere, in the 1960s and 1970s. This is a path that
leads to the totality of the human adventure, both ancient and contemporary,
through recourse to the only language which transcends cultural difference , 1. Organized by Unesco at Santiago da Chile
that of the concrete object. in 1972, the interdisciplinary round table on
‘The Role of Museums in Today’s Latin America’
It was Mzlseum’s duty, naturally, to bring together this striking testimony marked a turning point, both for the region and
to the vitality of the museum institution and the creativity of its servants. in rethinking the museum’s present-day role.
Out of its interdisciplinarityemerged the
definition of the ‘integralmuseum’. The
[ Trunslatedfiom French] condusions of the round table were published in
Museum, Vol. XXV, No. 3, 1973. See also the
article in this issue by Milagro Gomez de Blavia,
page 224-Ed.
186

IMAGES

Ecomaseams in France:
con 'ctions and distortions
François Hubert For a decade now, a proliferation of opi- speculation. To make matters worse still,
nions that have confused theory with doc- ecomuseums have had to cope with the
Born in Roquefort, Landes, France, in 1952. trine has done nothing to clarify the severe effects of the current economic
Graduated in philosophy and the sociology of com- ecomuseum philosophy, the basic ideas crisis.
munication and French ethnology. Organizer of the of which, in spite of their complexity,
Ecomusée de la Grande-Lande, 1976-82. Curator of
the Musée de Bretagne, Rennes, since 1983and col- had nevertheless been clearly laid down. An idea and its distortion
laborator with the team ofJean-YvesVeillard in the It is as though the idea had become of
programme of the Pays de Rennes Ecomuseum; he such importance (and perhaps it became In 1967, the French Regional Nature
has also co-ordinated the work on the exhibition important in order to attract the sub- Parks were established, by grouping
and publication entitled Décocouvrir Les écomcousées.
sidies) that under no circumstances must together rural councils and providing
it be specified. The result is that the substantial financial backing in order to
ecomuseum, which was supposed to con- implement a policy of; economic and
cern itself first and foremost with the col- cultural development. Georges Henri
lective memory, now displays an amazing Rivière took that opportunity to adapt
ability to forget its own history. It has in- the Scandinavian open-air museums to
vented a chronology that bears little the French context, with the difference
resemblance to the stages of implementa- that houses would not be moved to an ar-
tion of the various projects and developed tificial site, but that sites would be
a mythology most of whose heroes never restored to their former condition. These
had more than very minor parts to play. new museums aimed to offer all-round
Certain publications, some very oficial education, not just dealing with cultural
ones among them, do not so much as practices or architecture but also with the
mention Georges Henri Rivière as one of relations between man and his environ-
the originators of the idea! ment.3 They represented a first attempt
It is impossible, today, to show a at a combination of the human and
foreign colleague visiting France a single natural sciences. These experiments, for
example that incorporates all the prin- which the name of ecomuseum was coin-
ciples he would find in theoretical essays. ed shortly after, in 1971, clearly express-
His itinerary would take him to four or ing their environmental aspect, very soon
five sites very far from one another, each met with great success, echoing the
of which would show him only one facet development in the public at large of
of ecomuseology. The general public, for ecological and regional ideas.
its part, is convinced (whether through An additional experiment was con-
imagination or observation) that an ducted between 1971 and 1974 with the
ecomuseum is a reconstruction of an old support of Hugues de Varine, then direc-
workshop or farm. The discrepancy be- tor of ICOM. Within the newly formed
tween theory and practice is now quite Urban Community of Le Creusot
evident. True, everyone has made a theo- Montceau-les-Mines a project took shape
ry out of his own practice, trying to make
it fit the 'evolutive definition of ecomu-
1. It is more or less accepted as fact nowadays,
seums'z even if it was initially very far for example, that the first ecomuseum was that at
removed from that definition. There is, Le Creusot in central France, even though it
after all, nothing to restrict use of the opened in 1971, four years after the French
Regional Nature Parks.
term, and anyone can use it and interpret 2 . Georges Henri Riviere produced three
it as he pleases. People of genius (at successive versions of this definition-in 1973,
1976 and 1980. He deliberately restricted its
times) have run together theories dealing length, so as to set out the basic features of the
with separate aspects, but because they ecomuseum while leaving great scope for
were not familiar with ecomuseums in experiment.
3. Among the best-known of the Park
practice, they could not produce ecomuseums are those of Monts d'Arrée and
anything better than purely intellectual Basse Seine.
Ecomuseums in France: contradictions and distortions 187

for a museum of man and industry spread tors and scientific advisers -which allows theless proclaim loudly and clearly their
over the whole area, making the closest everyone to be involved in a ‘centre of conformity with the ‘evolutivedefinition
possible contact with the people living mutual instruction’ with the principal of the ecomuseum’, since they need to be
there. They were all to be involved in aim of developing the community. recognized as such. The term is used to
planning, running, evaluation, etc., and The intense cultural and ideological salve the conscience. The elaborate phil-
their involvement was facilitated by the ferment from which the first eco- osophy of development professed by the
decision to opt for the status of an associa- museums emerged should not, however, ecomuseum hides the backward-looking
tion. In 1974, this experiment took the blind us to the fact that they came into tendencies of most of these newer estab-
name of ecomuseum, and the new pros- being in a period of economic prosperity, lishments. In practice, the past is
pects it opened up produced still more unlike subsequent ecomuseums, espe- mythified through harvest festivals and
ideas, especially about the territory em- cially those opened after 1977, which are the present-day period is totally absent
braced by the ecomuseum and about in the majority. Ideas born in prosperity from the museum’s programme, if in-
public investment. From then on, the are always difficult to adapt to a reces- deed it has a programme. In fact, these
prefix ‘eco’ indicated an interest in the sion, and when factories are closing one different establishments are more apt to
natural as well as the social environment. after another the ecomuseum must ac- tell the sociologist about the fears and il-
Ecomuseums thus came into being as a cept that its philoscophy of development lusions of our society than they are to tell
result of the meeting of two movements and even, at times, its existence will be the museologist about new museographi-
that came, as it were, from opposite called into question since a large propor- cal practice.
directions.* On the one hand there was a tion of the public will prefer their As Jean-Yves Veillard has observed,
century of thinking on museums, which resources to be channelled into enter- this is the basic dilemma of the eco-
was brought to a conclusion and summed prises that provide jobs. museum: Is it an authentic reappro-
up by Georges Henri Rivière and which In addition to unsettling some basic priation of a heritage by the people, or is
found an immediate response from the principles, the economic crisis has caused it the refuge of new classes opposed to
public because of its central concern with distortions which are much more disturb- socio-economic change?5
ecology and regional ethnology. On the ing. Every difficult period sees a proli-
other hand, given the desire for involve- feration of historical and ethnographical Caught between myth und utopia
ment and self-management, there was museums whose purpose is to smooth
the need for a new kind of museum. The away worries about the future by extol- Many third-generation ecomuseums
coming together of the two movements ling the values of the past. (those of the French Regional Nature
led to, the development of a museo- Thus a great number of ‘little eco-
4. For detailed histories see Hugues de Varine,
graphical system which, in its ideal form, museums’ have opened since 1977. They ‘L’Écomusée’, Gazette de l‘Association des
around the museum of time, organizes a rarely build on the base of groups of AfuséeJ Camdiem (Ottawa), Vol. 104, No. 2 ,
museum of space, a field laboratory (with district councils, as their forerunners did, 1978, pp. 29-40, and F. Hubert, J.-Y. Veillard
and H. Joubeaux, Découun? les écomusées,
a workshop, documentation centre and, and for this reason it is not easy for them Rennes, Musée de Bretagne, 1984, 48 pp..
where appropriate, a shop), and outposts to expand the area they cover. As a result photographs, bibliog. (45 francs).
or communities associated with local they find it hard to come up with a clear 5. J.-Y. Veillard, ‘Les musées d’ethnographie,
les musées impossibles de l’hexagone’,
routes and pathways. This is all managed programme, particularly since their unpublished paper given at a seminar on the
by three committees-users, administra- resources are often limited. They never- ethnological heritage, Rennes, 1983.

2
LE
ÉCOMUSÉE DE LA COMMUNAUTÉ
CREUSOTMONTCEAU-LES-MINES.
The participation of the population as an
indispensable dynamizing element is a
principle which is at the heart of the
ecomuseum concept.
188 Frangois Hubert

Parks being the first generation and that ecomuseums of industrial areas follow any other body. It should come as no sur-
of Le Creusot being the second) have the same rule, since they tend to deal prise, therefore, that ecomuseums in
taken this contradiction to extremes, with the history of techniques rather than France have never been subjected to
leading the French newspaper Libération with social history, and even when they virulent criticism by the political parties
to describe them as the ‘museums of the do mention the paternalism of the or by many newspapers.8 They do not
recession’. nineteenth-century mill-owners, they are cause much trouble, they take care of the
They draw their philosophy from the less forthcoming about the major con- socio-cultural life of the community, use
participatory approach of Le Creusot, flicts, the class struggles and the peren- voluntary work, cost less than many other
calling themselves ‘community eco- nial friction between social groups.6 kinds of organization and, with their
museums’ in order to express the self- This picture, which we have darkened desire to create a better world, serve as an
development philosophy they preach, as deliberately, depicts the chief problem of outlet for political militancy.
opposed to the ‘institutional eco- an ecomuseum -that of steering a course It cannot be denied, however, that
museums’, initially represented by the between the Scylla of a mythical past and ecomuseums of all kinds are efficient
Parks generation, in which the public the Charybdis of a utopian future. It is, organizers. The philosopher Henri Pierre
does, in fact, play a less prominent role. of course, difficult to be parr of the pre- Jeudy has remarked that ‘the making of
In legal terms, the difference between the sent as can be seen from the experiences a museum does more than express in
community and the institutional is that of the ecomuseums in new towns, where practice the commonly held opiniqn that
the institutional is attached to a local social differences are compounded with conservation is a good thing. It also
group or to some official body and the differences in culture and civilization. develops various kinds of cultural ex-
community is independent, deriving its What can the ecomuseum do in such change. The preparation and develop-
independence from the provisions of the places except offer a totally artificial iden- ment of a museum necessarily imply the
French law of 1901, governing the crea- tity to people who have been displaced bringing together of objects and
tion of private associations. and who, in addition, come into violent documents, which generates social com-
Nevertheless, in spite of its cumber- conflict with the ways of the original in- munication.’g The programme of an
some nature, administration by some of- habitants? ecomuseum involves a significant sector
ficial body does guarantee the continuity The territory, another central concept of the general public and makes for a
of the institutional ecomuseum without of ecomuseology, takes on such signifi-
ruling out the possibility of a users’ cance in certain projects that it becomes
association. It might also be argued that the projection of every ‘micronationalist’
the status of association makes the ex- fantasy. People cheerfully rename hills
istence of the community ecomuseum and valleys, or set up gates to the
uncertain and that its independence from ecomuseum which do not so much in-
authority is a trap. It must continually go form the traveller of its existence as show
in search of subsidies, which are recon- the population the frontiers of its ‘little
sidered each year and can be used to bring homeland’,’ extolling its unique qual-
considerable pressure to bear. The future ities and, indeed, its superiority. It is
of the ecomuseum depends entirely on almost as though a minority, bypassing
the goodwill of its backers and in order to the ballot-box, had legitimized its power
survive it must make concessions, involv- by creating a new nation. This is because
ing itself in political manoeuvres. The the ecomuseum, aiming for a com-
ecomuseum programme could then be prehensive approach to the territory,
manipulated by the political party in con- naturally develops a strong tendency
trol, and by a supreme paradox the towards hegemony. All social, cultural
museum would then become an instru- and economic activities must pass
ment of manipulation! Seen in this light, through it, to the implicit exclusion of
the community ecomuseum is a gift to
the political authorities, who can limit its 6. This point was dealt with in 1978 in a little-
cost and at the same time control what it known but very interesting article -Anonymous
(P. L. N.), ‘Un écomusée ce n’est pas un musée
does. comme les autres’, Histoire et crifique des arts
The same may be said of the ideology (Paris), December 1978, pp. 90-102.
7. This expression comes from the conservative
the ecomuseum develops. Contrary to regionalist movements which, from the late
the spirit of opposition it proclaims, the nineteenth century, prompted the opening of
ecomuseum is far from being subversive, local museums. See areiclron page 242 by
Alfred0 Crus-Ramirez.
as its programme aims to establish a real 8. Only newspapers of the left and extreme left
consensus between all sections of the have made any criticism at all, the French daily
population. The three committees thus Libération being foremost in this respect. The
only serious critique, to my knowledge, is the
constitute the formal structure through article that appeared in Histoire et cri2ique des
which this consensus is achieved. The old arts, op. cit., a publication which classes itself as
extreme left.
dream of the golden age is ubiquitous. 9. H. P. Jeudy, ‘L’échange et l’objet’, extract
Through harvest festivals, there takes from a paper given at a conference entitled
shape the image of an ideal social life ‘Constituer aujourd’hui la mémoire de demain’,
held at Rennes in December 1984, whose papers
which serves as a point of reference for will soon be published by the association
speculation about the future. The Muséologie Nouvelle et Expérimentation Sociale.
Ecomuseams in France: contraa’ictioions and dsto~tions 189

more intense social life. The danger in tion. Similarly, public involvement
the community ecomuseum is that it should be understood not as the expres-
might never progress beyond such a role. sion of a wide-ranging consensus but as a
What leads to distortions and contradic- means of highlighting conflicts and con-
tions is the absence of the scientific tradictions.
dimension from most of these museums. The ecomuseum must not be restricted
When there is no detachment or spirit of to conservation alone, but it must be
criticism, the ‘mirror museum’ shows the equally wary of community organization
society in question not as it is but as it activities to the exclusion of anything
wishes to see itself, with all the exaggera- else, since it is always in danger of over-
tions implicit in such an attitude. emphasizing one side or the other. The
Only by comparing a scientific inter- institutional ecomuseum tends to con-
pretation with the way the inhabitants fine itself to the scientific and conserva-
see themselves can a dialogue be tional concerns of the old, local mu-
engendered that might lead beyond this seums, while the community ecomu-
situation. However, any possibility of seum is tending to rejoin the ranks of the
a comparison is ruled out if, instead community cultural centres.
of a permanent exhibition, scientifically
planned on Georges Henri Rivière’s Do ecomuseuins have a future?
‘periodized interdisciplinary’ basis, at-
tention is focused on small, temporary The balance between conservation and
exhibitions arranged directly by the outreach. to the community does not in 3
public without any outside assistance. itself define the ecomuseum. Most tradi- -. -.
ECohlUsÉE DE A GRANDE-LANDE.
This is why the permanent exhibition is
the keystone of the ecomuseum and not
simply a chance product of its organiza- originality of the ecomuseum is the buildings found a special meankg.
1 sn Francois Hubert

4
A view of the territory of the future Pays de

I Rennes Ecomuseum as presented in the


contemporary Brittany section at the Musée
de Bretagne. The ecomuseum must deal

astonishing capacity it has shown for then at least some ‘principles of organiza- be glimpsed another view of mankind
catching up with its own day, for con- tion’ (in France such principles were en- and the world which opens up vast
fronting the present in ofder to offer it a dorsed by the Ministry of Culture in horizons to the ecomuseum, since science
new humanism over and above the image 1980) that would guarantee its special museums and centres of scientific and
it reflects. The ecomuseum, like other status and ensure that it was recognized technical culture are apparently restric-
kinds of museum that came into being at by ‘the authorities’ .12 It did, in facr, gain ting themselves to the technical dimen-
the same time or a little earlier (such as recognition, and at the same time (one sion. Perhaps the .’newhumanism’ of the
the Musée National, Niamey, the Casa suspects a ploy) so did all the experiments fourth-generation ecomuseums has
del Muséo, Mexico City, and the and theories that arrogated its name, rob- happy days ahead.
neighbourhood museum)’O completely bing it of its value in the process. That fourth generation has yet to be
undermined the notion of the universal As Georges Henri Rivière said: thought up, however.
museum that is fixed in time and space.
As an alternative, it presented specific Ecomuseums are coming on like a [ Translatedfrom French]
forms by which each micro-society could house on fire! But the appalling thing
display its heritage objectively and put is that on the one hand progress is
into practice in the field (unless it actually made and on the other there are two or
helped to elaborate) the ideas of the San- three characters who are jumping on 10. See the article by Pablo Toucet, ‘The
Museum of Niamey and Its
tiago round table in 1972, for example the bandwagon and are making quite Mmezm, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, 1972, pp. 204-7,
that a system ofit. The idea is so spectacular and that by Coral Ordóiiez García, ‘The Casa del
Muséo, Mexico City: An Experiment in Bringing
and so productive that it such the Museum to the People’, Mmeum, Vol.
the museum is an institution in the people. 13 XXVII, No. 2 , 1975, pp. 71-7.
service of society of which it forms an 11. This extract from the Resolutions adopted
at the Santiago da Chile round table of 1972 (see
inseparable part and, of its very The ecomuseum has clearly been through M u m m , Vol. XXV, No. 3, 1973) was quoted as
nature, contains the elements which many a battle, and perhaps the decisive an epigraph to the preparatory documents for the
enable it to help in moulding the con- ones are yet to come. The ecomuseum first international workshop of ecomuseums and
new museologies, Montreal, Quebec, 1984. See
sciousness of the communities it does not have to fear this deliberate or ac- article on page 200 by Pierre Mayrand.
serves. cidental dilution or exploitation so much 12. See also the chapter on ecomuseums in the
report ‘For a New Heritage Policy’ by Max
as the changes in society, as its confronta- Querrien, Chairman of the Caisse Nationale des
But even as it broke with the traditional tion with the economic crisis has shown. Monuments Historiques et des Sites, for the
museum, the ecomuseum needed to find The world of today has little in common French Ministry of Culture in 1982.
13. From an interview in Le Mpnde, 8-9 July
legitimacy. It did not want to lose what it with the one that produced the ecomu- 1979, entitled ‘Le musicien muséographe qui
had gained. It wanted, if not a charter, seum. Beyond the new technologies can inventa aussi les écomusées’.
191

‘ThevaZiveZess object ’

How paradoxical this title must appear in sent a particular region or theme, and Jean-Yves Veillard
a society where money reigns supreme. both of these in the light of present scien-
The paradox is also implicit in the tific knowledge. Some fields are amply, Born in 1939 in Rennes. Advanced studies in history
predominant image of the museum in not to say abundantly, covered. In other and geography, Licence, DES, CAPES, 1978 doc-
the societies of the rich countries as a fields there are gaps and weaknesses: toral thesis entitled ‘Architectes, architecture et
urbaisme à Rennes au XXe’. Chief curato1 of
community treasure chest for everything these are the low points. Depending the Musée de Bretagne, Rennes, since 1967. Has
that has any value, even though cultural on the resources available, the tem- organized many exhibitions and has published
value and sentimental value are prized peraments of the curators involved and Description hlito+e et géographique de lu pro-
more than mere monetary value. It the opportunities that arise, a growth vime de Bretagne, du Président de Robien, 1974,
should be noted in passing that what may policy will either emphasize the high and Rennes naguère, 1982.
be called the recovery period, in other points -consolidating strengths -or
words the time taken by an object, such give special attention to the low points,
as a home-made toy or a printing block, through a systematic effort to close the
originally possessing no more than sen- gaps. It may also pursue both goals at the
timental value, to acquire monetary same time.
value, is tending to become shorter and Of course, these two approaches ex-
shorter: a period piece need be no more press a concern simply to extend the usual
than twenty years old. Nostalgia does not function of the museum in an up-to-date
have the same associations for everyone. and intelligent manner; but there is little
For people belonging to social groups likelihood that either of them will
closer to the production sectors, it is true transform the museum into a means of 5
that museums are seen in another, less understanding and interpreting contem- Cottage cheese container- a typical
flattering light: as lumber rooms. It porary society. everyday object.
would be unwise to adopt too black and Take, for example, the case of a
white a view-the two images are inter- Résistance museum in a given region. At
related and interactive. They are merely best, it will have been designed by a team
different answers, at different points in including specialists and associations,
time, to the same question: What is the and will exhibit two- or three-dimen-
place of the museum in contemporary sional objects selected for their suitability
society? as illustrations of what the specialistshave
Among the recognized functions of to say; at worst, a collection of machine
the museum the first is, then, to expand guns and parachutes will be combined
its collections by various means with a written commentary verging on
-purchases, gifts and bequests- eulogy of an association of Résistance
which, true to museum tradition, do not fighters or war veterans. What collection-
include the activity of collecting in the expanding policy will be pursued in such
strict sense, through organized program- a case? At best, collections of ‘modern’
mes of field research. The image here is of equipment will be acquired in the form
a static museum, although on occasion a of weaponry produced after the
great deal of energy is expended in Résistance period, so that technical com-
eliciting certain donations.. .! parisons can be made. At worst, the
Today, what policies for collection policy will confine itself to emphasizing
development are needed to ensure that the high points and not collecting any
museums truly belong to the territory further items.
and the society in which they are Here, with this extreme example,
established? deliberately chosen for the sake of
debate, history grinds to a halt. Another
High points a d ZOW p o i m approach might indeed be possible, but
this one is a logical consequence of the
The most common approach is what basic principle that the object must be
might be described as the policy of high subordinate to the word. An alternative
points and low points. It is rooted in an approach would be to trace contemporary
historical appraisal of how collections are applications of the concept of resistance,
built up and what they display to repre- by referring to anti-colonial uprisings,
192 Jean-Yves Veil/ard

hunger strikes and the uses to which Exemplary here are the thirteen Swedish
resistance is put throughout the world museums that
today. Difficult to imagine, given the
wariness of political authorities. And yet, have found practical solutions to this
if we are to give any serious thought to problem by joining forces in order to
making museums relevant to contem- document agriculture, fishing and
porary society.. . . forestry. Each museum is responsible
every thirteenth year for a large field
Choosing the few from the many project in its own district. Objects and
data about individual as well as social
Our society produces a large number of life in the agrarian milieu today will
objects, meaning both the three-dimen- thereby be collected in a co-ordinated
sional and the two-dimensional, such as fashion.1
writings and images (Gutenberg and
MacLuhan have, after all, left their In the case of a particular territory, for ex-
6 mark). In a society so dominated by the ample a region such as Brittany, it is im-
This painted piece of wood is a self-made
toy and an object of strong sentimental image, it always seems curious that in portant to give clear descriptions of its ,

value. How long before it acquires market venerable institutions there should still agricultural, industrial and craft produc-
value? be a dividing line between objects and tion and the socio-cultural patterns that
documents, with the latter taking second are its defining characteristics. The ,
place. This abundance can easily give rise salient features of local production must
to a sort of bulimia, a desire to collect be pinpointed, for which purpose it
everything: all objects have an emblem- should be enough periodically to select a
atic or symbolicmeaning, from the pack- few characteristic objects, such as the
age of frozen food to the micro-com- cardboard boxes used to export chickens
puter. Insatiabilityhas its practical limits: to the Middle Eastern countries, in the
time (it takes a huge amount of time to case of one of the sectors of the
collect everything); space (a combine ‘agriculture-basedfood industry. But in
harvester and an industrial assembly line making the selection, special attention
present obvious problems of storage, con- must be given to singling out those ob-
servation and utilization if they are to be jects which, in addition to their primary
shown in a ‘real life situation’); and, significance, also reflect a type of
above all, conceptual span (the whole of economic organization or a development
contemporary society can theoretically be thereof (absorption of a local industry by
museified). a multinational corporation, for exam-
There is also the opposite temptation, ple). In the case of objects produced out-
namely, to specialize in one particular side the territory concerned, the problem
type of object. Here, the museum is *ofterritorial specificity arises in a society
always one step behind the collector who of worldwide consumerism. The collec-
anticipates the future. This anticipation tions of a museum in Gaspé Peninsula I

is often the result of imaginative projec- and in the Frisian Islands alike would in-
tion in response to a socialfield where im- clude a Philips television set and a Coca-
portant interactions are taking place. For Cola bottle, and there would be hun-
example, the most comprehensive collec- dreds of television sets and Coca-Cola
tion on Anti-Semitism in contemporary bottles in the museums of France. The
society from the beginning of the century only relevant criterion would be posses-
to the present day is probably in the sion of a consumer prototype (by analogy
hands of a private individual, while with an industrial prototype for museums
another has assembled an almost ex- of technology): that is, the first object of
haustive collection of political posters its kind, or one of the first, to be used in
and key-rings, with political associations, that particular geographical area, provid-
produced over the past twenty years. But ed that documents are also available to
there is no cause for alarm. These collec- demonstrate its significance. In the case
rions will, either wholly or in part, even- of all these objects there is, however, one
tually end up in a museum. medium that usually provides evidence
How is the choice to be made? There is of specificity, if only in the form of the
no easy answer, bur it becomes easier local distributor’s mark-advertising.
once the museum is clearly defined as a What better example is there of valueless
centre for understanding and thinking
about contemporary society, this being
an extension of its role in regard to past 1. See article by Sune Zachrisson, ‘Agricultural
Museums-the Story and Propagation of an
societies. It will also be easier if the ap- Idea’, ¡&mum, No. 143 (Vol. XXXVI, No. 3,
proach is collective and not individual. 1984), pp. 121-4.
‘The i~ahel’essobject’ 193

7
2
- Promotional blotter, a record of both the
clothing industry and cultural specificity. Its
text in Breton extols the virtues of the work
clothes (Heu) ‘they last 3 times as long’
-made by the firm Mont Saint-Michel
Ariès.

objects, produced in tens of thousands of his favourite rock groups will be of both
copies, that often go directly from the sartorial and cultural significance.
letter-boxes in a block of flats into the
waste-paper bin in the entrance hall. ‘Like a fish in water’
With their dates clearly established, these
objects trace the successive stages and These words express in a nutshell the
mark the channels whereby the products place that the museum is trying to make
of the consumer society find their way in- for itself in contemporary society through
to people’s homes. its collecting policy. For museums it is a
In fields such as sport, for example, matter not of breaking with the past (and
sweatshirts (whether in Tarbes or Cleder) it is still essential to bear that past in
may come from the same place (a factory mind), but of adding another dimen-
in,Champagne) but the distinguishing sion. This new dimension can be added
feature will be the symbolism of the only if museum curators are close ob-
colour (‘up the reds’) or the football servers of the society in which they live,
club’s printed initials. and if they have a finger permanently on
The multivalence of the messages con- the pulse of the people and the forces at
tained in a given object will be of par- work in their own territory.
ticular interest: a schoolboy’s canvas bag
marked by its owner with the initials of [ Transhedfrom French]
194

8
Users’ Committee of the Community
Ecomuseum visiting the pithead
installations of the Blanty collieries
(20 January 1985): the group in the miners’
locker room, known as the ‘salle des
pendus’.

Actors in tbe red worZd


Mathilde Bellaigue-Scalbert In 1984 plans were afoot in France for a cultural action but to ‘cultural acts’ per-
reform of training in museum curator- formed by the actual users of the
Postgraduate degree in modern literature. Has been ship. The qualifying examination was to museum.
professionally involved in teaching and educational be opened to candidates with prior train- Such an approach cannot be effective,
research and the supervision of painting workshops
ing in a wider range of disciplines, a more however, unless it takes account of two
and has translated from English numerous works on
art and crafts. Secretary of the ICOhl International interdisciplinaryprogramme of study was essential factors, namely space and time
Committee for Museology (ICOFOM); has par- envisaged,. together with longer and in relation to those users.
ticipated in meetings and research work connected more varied periods of training in the
with ecomuseology in France and abroad. Director field. At long last some thought was be-
of the Le Creusot Montceau-les-Mines Community CuZturaZ environment/reaZ
Ecomuseum.
ing given to the ‘profile’ of the curator. environment
In addition, efforts were everywhere be-
ing made to improve the organization of As a cultural locus, the museum is essen-
museum activities. All this forms part of tially an unreal environment: spatially,
what is designated by the vague term first of all, because it is isolated from its
‘cultural action’. The expression clearly surroundings; temporally, because of the
implies a movement by the cultural telescoping of historical perspective or.
agents in question towards the public, or, the arrested time of aesthetic contempla-
to use today’s term, towards various tion; and lastly, because of the behaviour
‘target-groups’. it demands of the visitor. The very
However, it was precisely this one-way etymology of the word ‘ecomuseum’
movement that was called into question -which, let it be made quite clear, has
by Georges Henri Rivière more than fif- nothing to do with ecology-indicates a
teen years ago, in the early days of determination to incorporate the mu-
ecomuseums. There are still very few peo- seum into the real world, the familiar en-
ple in the museum profession who think vironment in which people live and work.
-and who act as if-the public can The ecomuseum is based, then, on a life-
switch from the role of museum visitor to size territory, or rather on a plurality of
that of museum organizer, or indeed, territories, of a family, educational, pro-
that of museum founder. Reference fessional, associational, political and also
should no .longer be made, then, to imaginary nature. This reality is what
Actors in the real’ tuorla 195

changes the role of the public, for how values fortunate enough to be im-
and why could a population passively mediately recognized dwindle away to
receive an image of itself that is ‘objec- nothing. The time ofrecognition is, on
tively’ put out by a museum specialist, the contraq, an orgaizic and active
when that population in fact consists of a time of incubation: it is a n3ening.l
collection of subjective sensibilities? The
public is in a better position than anyone I?zteructive Zearning through
else to ensure that its identity is research
respected, if given the means to do so.
It is a source of inventors, researchers The focus of this approach is the living
and informants, while the museologist heritage, used sometimes in new ways by
is the instigator, the mediator and the its own beneficiaries, in an unceasing
translator of what that public knows, process of recreation which places it at the
discovers or recognizes, helping it to heart of everyday life; or else it is already
produce an ever-greater amount of safeguarded, preserved in the recesses of
knowledge about itself and its environ- the secret life of the mind. To speak of
ment: material evidence of its history, the heritage is necessarily to speak of
places of residence, ways of life, practices, research, of the inventorying and inter-
know-how, attitudes, imaginings and pretation of tangible and intangible
representations of itself; in short, all that objects. Such research has usually been
makes up its heritage. conducted by academics or amateur
It is therefore necessary to set bounds researchers working outside real situa-
to this territory, to keep it on a human tions and making people the object of
scale to facilitate communication, close their scrutiny, or, better still, their infor-
analysis, complex knowledge-building, mants. Within the ecomuseum, how-
varied approaches and accurate recogni- ever, the aim is to establish a way of work-
tion. Hence the scale of the operation ing that brings together professional
must necessarilybe ‘local’;it must also be researchers and voluntary amateurs
confined to the everyday. The eco- -‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’-by com-
museum exists in a twofold temporal bining academic knowledge and em-
mode: in continuing time, which allows pirical knowledge, learning and know-
an active relationship to develop between how, in order to invest the territory and
users and the museum personnel, and in its heritage with the greatest possible
the moment, since ‘the right time’ for meaning, use them to further com-
each action is important, as not only ob- munity development and assign to their
jects but also people are involved. custodians an active part in research.
In the Le Creusot Montceau-les-Mines
Time is not only the first of the Community Ecomuseum, two activities
unknowables: it is also the medium of illustrate this approach, one in its early
recognition, for it is in the course of stages, the other having already spanned
time that what is unrecognized several years. The first came into being at The Users’ Committee members in the
becomes recognized. It is also in time a meeting of the Users’ Committee in television monitoring room.
that what is recognized is gradually January 1985, during which about
10
forgotten: but time in this instance is The School House branch of the
no more than raw, inert duration, 1. Vladimir Jankelevitch, Le j e ne S& quoi et ecomuseum, Montceau-les-Mines: meeting
wherein all glory fades and those lepresque rzez, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1981. of the working group on 12 March 1985.
150 people visited the pit-head instal- or take care of correspondence and
lations of the Blanzy collieries, guided relations with the media.
by professionals (miners, surveyors The age of the participants ranges
and engineers) acting in a voluntary from 40 to over 70: it is true that the
capacity, thereby combining learning need for maturity and a measure of
about the local environment with inter- detachment regarding education and
active learning. The same people, at the complex issues it involves tends to
the ensuing working meeting, collab- filter out the very young. There are
orated with the team of professionals in fourteen women and thirteen men,
preparing a project of research and ex- and this near equality of numbers is
hibitions on the life of the community to- especially noteworthy in view of the
day. A working group of mixed member- very high proportion of women
ship (local representatives, land-use teachers in France. The socio-
planners, .engineers,trade union activists occupational breakdown of the group
and workers in the tertiary sector) was set is as follows: ten retired teachers
up to provide the team of professionals (primary or secondary level); nine ac-
with the additional expertise needed to tive teachers (nursery, primary and
study and reveal the present and future secondary level, primary-school in-
development in the spheres of tech- spectorate); two persons retired or ap-
nology, town-planning and economic proaching retirement from other pro-
and social life, of a specific area whose fessions (mining, trade); three
aspect has changed under the impact of gainfully employed persons (mining,
the crisis affecting the steelworks and the trade); three non-working mothers
collieries. (whose husbands’ professions vary
The example of the ‘School House’ in widely, from retired mine electrician
Montceau-les-Mines shows the present to public health service doctor).
stage of development of a unit of the One part of the membership chan-
ecomuseum whose chosen theme is ges according to the interest taken by
changes in the educational system since individuals in the activities planned,
the Jules Ferry laws of 1881. These while the other forms a permanent
changes are illustrated by three nucleus of some fifteen persons who
reconstituted classrooms (1881-1923, ensure that there is real continuity.
1923-60 and post-1960) in a school still
11 in operation. Suzanne Régnier, one of Another member of the group, Clotilde
Functioning model of the SchneiderlLe the active members of the group, sum- Gillot, describes its spheres of activity as
Creusot:foundry workshop c. 1900, made marizes the history of this unit of the €allows:
by a retired worker and now being restored ecomuseum as follows:
by a worker in the factory.
Little by little, in the course of
Originating in an educational project research and by dint of discoveries, a
carried out in 1974-75, the working fund of written documents has been
group on the School House was set up built up, forming the ‘School House
when the temporary school exhibition archives’. They include textbooks
became a unit of the ecomuseum in (2,710 items from 1836 to 1975),
1977. It originally consisted of three teaching charts (144 sets), pupils’ exer-
individuals: the teacher who launched cise books (245), teachers’ preparatory
the project, the departmental Inspec- notes, union or educational journals,
tor of Schools who was actively in- miscellaneous diplomas awarded to
volved from the outset, and the person pupils and teachers (a hundred or so,
responsible for relations with teachers the earliest dating back to 1844) and
at the community ecomuseum. The all the administrative forms concern-
group very quickly expanded; from ing the management of a nursery
consisting mainly of teachers, retired school or primary school from 1880 to
or still serving, it went on to acquire a approximately 1970.
more varied membership. It has This catalogue, produced by the
twenty-seven members, of whom at combined efforts of members of the
least twenty-two are very active, but School House group, gave descriptions
each is concerned with a different of the objects exhibited ‘in real-life
aspect of the work to be carried out. settings’ in the two reconstituted
Some respond to individual requests classrooms, but a number of the ar-
from visitors, as and when needed; ticles contained in it were based on
others are active in the three research documents already piling up in the
commissions; others, again, keep cupboards. All its illustrations were
detailed records, inventory collections taken from textbooks or exercise books
Actors in the real world 197

12
The Maisotz &École (School House),
officially inaugurated on 28 March 1981,
with a plaque commemorating the
centenary of the building, one of the
town’s first municipal schools.

in the collection. More recently, the that we cannot agree to ‘casual taneous communication. If much is made
document holdings have yielded sightseeing’, and that whereas Sunday of roots, it is in the knowledge that roots
material for the research currently be- visitors are often prompted by are having to be pulled up as a result of
ing conducted by two groups of col- nostalgia for their youth, school- the state of crisis in the world, and that
leagues on the teaching of reading (by children escorted by their teachers mobility is part of the price that must be
comparing and methods) and the use are always motivated by a class project, paid for endemic unemployment. If
of counting rhymes in the lower in many cases planned with our much is made of identity, it is due to an
grades. assistance. acceptance of the gradual intermingling
Thanks, also, to our mathematics of cultures. If much is made of the time
section (338 volumes), similar research It should also be noted that the mus- dimension, it is against the background
will shortly be undertaken on the eographic inventory of the unit is in the of the ever-quickening pace of tech-
teaching of arithmetic in primary competent hands of a member of the nological change.
schools. , group. In 1981 the group also col- To continue with the type of undefiak-
Every year, external researchers, laborated with university researchers in ing known as the ecomuseum-whatever
mostly students, come to peruse the educational science, and after a number it comes to be called subsequently-it
documents of the School House with a of working meetings produced a book en- will be increasingly necessary for both
view to writing a thesis. For instance, titled One Hundred Years of SchooL.2 staff and users to participate fully in com-
in February 1984 a student from the Lastly, the group helps to instruct munity development, making the best
teacher-training college of Dijon did ecomuseum trainees in museology (iden- use of memory and their heritage as tools
some research on primary-school tification, classification and registration) for that purpose; for ecomuseums make
teachers under the Third Republic. In and ecomuseum unit management. people see, and ‘seeingis understanding,
January 1985, a teacher at the Mâcon seeing is acting; seeing means uniting the
Chamber of Commerce was in- Seeing is understanding and acting world and humanity, and uniting human
vestigating the ways in which each beings one to another’.3
school textbook published before 1881 These basic principles, namely, focusing
contributed to Roman Catholic the museum on a particular territory, [Trandatedfrom French]
religious instruction in schools. In time-span and community, continue to
March a musicology student from yield positive results; but the problem of 2. Cent ans d:école--gmupe de travail
de la Maison &Ecole à Montceau-les-Mines,
Toulouse was looking for information ecomuseums is more acute today, contributions by Pierre Caspard, Serge
(curricula and timetables) about the although couched in similar terms: The Chassagne, Jacques Ozouf, Antoine Prost, Yves
teaching of singing in primary schools emphasis on territoriality is due to an Lequin, Guy Vincent, preface by Georges Duby,
‘Milieux’ series, Editions Champ Vallon, 1981.
from 1880 to 1930. awareness of the expansion of space 3. Paul Eluard, ‘Preface’, Anthologie des éctits
As regards visits., I would point out through rapid exchanges and instan- surl’art, Galliiard/P1éiade, Vol. II, p. 512.
198

Xdìfzg the measwe of thephefzomenon

Max Querrien In the widely &cussed report ‘Pour une the ecomuseum lives in a state of tension
nouvelle politique du patrìmoine ’ by that discourages any static definitions.
French State Counsellor, President of the National Max Querrien, President o f the French Conversely, if the various partners in-
Fund for Historical Monuments and Sites, President Nationa/Fzlndfor HijtonbalMonumentj volved in the ecomuseum are to have a
ofthe French Institute of Architecture and Mayor of and sites [caisse Nationale des M ~ - correct perception of it, they must be
Paimpol (Côtes du Nord). He was Director of
Architecture at the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Histonkues et des On aware of the major requirements to which
from 1963 to 1968. heritage policy in France, a separate its existence is subordinated.
chapter was devotedto ecomuseums. The The first requirement concerns the ter-
report was specially commissioned by ritoriality of its field of investigation,
Jack Lang, French Minister of Culture. In which ir would be a mistake to reduce to
discussing andjustzj$ing the considerable the notion of territorial dependence.
expansion of the heritage concept, the Rather, it should be seen as a mission to
author recognizedthe signzficmt innova- reveal, in their entirety, all the practices,
tions introducedby France’s ecomuseum skills, struggles, subjective outlooks and
movement. He was able t o clanfi a socio-cultural reference points that
number of features, as shown by the characterize a population. Understood in
following extract. this way, the territoriality of the eco-
museum enables it to confront external
If we subscribe to the view that ‘the challenges of the kind that will prevent it
ecomuseum results essentially from the from withdrawing into itself.
coming together of a desire and a re- The requirements involved are cor-
sponse, that it does not correspond to a related: on the one hand, the local po-
scheme wilfully imposed upon a territory pulation must assume responsibility for
in order to take charge of it, but rather a the ecomuseum’s activities within the
desire to take charge of oneself.. .’ , I then most appropriate institutional structure
we shall be wary in our definitions. We (generally an association); on the other,
shall endeavour to take the measure of local workers must take part in its research
the ecomuseum phenomenon, and we and training work.
shall consider what type of social conven- There is no contradiction involved in
tions are most likely to enable public this requirement, but rather a salutary
bodies and the state to support its provocation, inasmuch as the research ac-
development without misdirecting its tivities engaged in must be given the
dynamics. For a government administra- methodological focus and the qualified
tion it is a salutary but difficult exercise, personnel necessary for them to be
let there be no mistake. acknowledged as scientific research.
Before the ecomuseum, there is the As arule, however, the ecomuseum ex-
heritage, rescued from public indif- tends beyond pure knowledge. Its ac-
ference and vandalism, protected, tivities lead into a set of concrete social
safeguarded, ossified and, as a result, practices in the field, which may range
becoming the fulcrum for an intense from providing associations,trade unions
dialectic between the claim to roots and or official bodies with information, ad-
the rejection of roots, between the need vice or studies, to participation in social
for points of reference and a sense of struggles. From this point of view, we
belonging and the need to live and in- cannot but draw a parallel between the
novate, ultimately, if necessary, by development of an ecomuseum and the
destroying. adventure of the ‘neighbourhood’ town
Born of contradiction, the ecomuseum planning workshop in Roubaix which,
thrives on it. As a repository of the developing out of a struggle to resist
heritage, its impetus is to inventory, col- being uprooted, generated a process
lect and conserve. However, its true whereby the group learned to be self-
patrimony is, essentially, the collective reliant, to come to grips with problems
memory, whence there emerges a sense of
identity which, in its singularity, claims 1. Marcel Evrard and Mathilde Scalbert,
Écomusées-patrimoine et socigté
to be at loggerheads with present history contemporaine, 2.3.2. (Unpublished manuscript
and with giving birth to the future. Thus prepared for Max Querrien’s report.)
Taking the measure of the phenomenon 199

of the urban environment and to create both the product and the starting-point the structure of ‘centres of scientific and
an urban life-style and praxis that was of a research process experienced as an ex- technological culture’ with, on the
grafted onto a given architectural legacy. ercise in mutual training, involving those horizon, the prospect of a split between
We are a long way here from the tradi- in charge of the ecomuseum, its users and the rural dimension, which would fall
tional ‘museum’, and the term ‘ecomu- research workers, and in which academic within the province of the ecomuseums
seum’ does not convey the idea adequate- scholarship, popular wisdom and tech- and the National Museums for Popular
ly. Moreover, it should be pointed out nical know-how come face to face. Arts and Traditions, and the technologi-
that an ecomuseum does possess collec- The forms of expression available to cal dimension, taken over by a network of
tions, since objects are signs to which the the ecomuseum are various: a centre for centres more or less directly linked to the
collective memory clings. However, it is research and mutual training, it brings La Villette Museum. If this were to hap-
more concerned with the ‘safeguarding together symposia and seminars attended pen, the anthropology of contemporary
of skills’ than with the ‘museification’of by participants from other regions, society would give way to the history of
artefacts.2 The objects that it does assem- publishes monographs, theses or works technology, and culture would yield to
ble are bound up with everyday life. by local scholars, sets up temporary shows pedagogy.
Some of them may be eliminated as a and permanent but continuously evolv-
result of continuing use, or owing to the ing exhibitions, carries its message to the [ Translatedfrom French]
wear and tear resulting from their being inhabitants of outlying neigbourhoods
displayed in operation (motors, etc.). and hamlets, conducts field trips, 2. Report on ecomuseum projects in the
Other objects, once they have been in- organizes audio-visual events, and so on. Department of Isère, 31 December 1981.
3. See Jocelyn de Noblet, Manifeste pour k
ventoried and studied, may be returned It is an institution which insists on re- développement de la culture technique, Neuilly-
to their owners and reinstated in their en- maining tentative and provisional, which sur-Seine,.CRCT, 1981.
vironment. Finally, the ecomuseum we must be careful not to encapsulate
prefers to add to its holdings through in any formula borrowed from other
donations and permanent deposits rather categories. Thus it is perfectly possible to
than to conduct an acquisitions policy imagine a textile museum, but not a tex-
that is liable to unleash the acquisitive in- tile ecomuseum, simply because textiles
stincts of collectors, as was observed when alone do not sum up the total reality-
the glassware collection was being industrial, agricultural, urban and rural
established in the Le Creusot Eco- alike-of what is to be represented. On
museum. On the other hand, even if the the other hand, according to the specific
ecomuseum thereby makes itself proof economic and human geography in-
against penetration by the antique volved, an ecomuseum may have a focal
markets, the junk stores follow and take point, for example mines and mining.
their place. However, this feature is perceived only in
There is in fact nothing to stop an so far as it has served and still serves to
ecomuseum from having collections shape the social and cultural personality
managed along traditional lines. In other and indeed the subjective essence of the
words, an ecomuseum may include a population. It is only in this sense that
‘museum’ section including, for in- one can speak, for example, of industrial
stance, state-owned holdings subject to ecomuseums-although it is wise to
the customary controls. We must simply choose one’s words carefully when so
beware of applying to the whole the doing.
methods and rules that are suited to the In any case it is vital to refrain from
part. The fact is that, in so far as the issuing an ecomuseum label. It is indeed
physical heritage of an ecomuseum is essential that every effort be made to
made up of everyday, banal, mass- preserve the potential, the promise that
produced objects, sometimes even in use the ‘make-up’ of the ecomuseum bears
or moreover reinstated in their own en- within it. We must therefore ensure
vironment, it is obvious that they cannot that this formula is not systematically
be conserved in the same way as art replaced, whether literally or in essence,
museum collections. by that of ‘centres of scientific and
Its mission being to make us perceive technological culture’ set up at the in-
what we commonly fail to notice, the stigation of the administration instead of
ecomuseum naturally devotes itself to evolving out of a dawning collective self-
drawing up inventories, category by awareness, imbued more with didactic
category, in every imaginable field- good intentions than with existential
buildings, household articles, locally pro- spontaneity, limited to a cultural sphere
duced artefacts and handicrafts, and so that has undoubtedly been overlooked
on -and to creating a readily accessi- too long3 but that cannot with im-
ble data bank in which each and every punity be developed uniformly in a
item of the ‘heritage’ becomes a docu- segregative environment. Recently, how-
mentary tool, or can become one if ever, there has been a tendency for eco-
handled with due scientific rigour. It is museums to drift towards adopting
200

Tbe new mzlseolbgy procZh+d

Pierre Mayrand The new museology is not just an in- tions than to the ethics of conservation.
itiative to promote constant innovation. They might even be accused of ir-
Consultant in community museology. Professor of It mobilizes the supporters of a radical reverence or of succumbing to a passing
cultural heritage at the University of Quebec, Mon- transformation of the aims of museology, fad.3 Nevertheless, measures have been
treal. President of the Association des Ecomuséesdu and advocates profound changes in the taken and their effects show no sign of
Québec. Co-ordinator of the First International abating: in addition to the meetings
Workshop on ‘Ecomuseums and the New
thinking and attitudes of the museol-
Museology’. President of the Ecomuseums of ogist. This emerged from the first public already mentioned, a Study Day on
Haute-Beauce, regional museum. Award of Merit pronouncements of a group who met in Ecomuseums, held in Montreal in 1983,
of the Canadian Museums Association in 1982. London in 1983, at the General Con- led by Hugues de Varine who heralded
ference of ICOM, and then in Quebec in the ‘community’ type of ecomuseums;4
1984 at the First International Workshop the founding of associations based on
on ‘Ecomuseums and the New Muse- these positions, for example Muséologie
ology’.The protest first voiced in ICOM’s Nouvelle et Expérimentation Sociale
International Committee for Museology (MNES, France) and the Association des
(ICOFOM) developed rapidly into a Écomusées du Québec; the many articles
movement with its own momentum and expressing them; and finally the
structure which is expected to lead to the establishment of training courses in ‘new
establishment, in November 1985 (Sec- museology’ and ‘popular museology’ .
ond International Workshop, Lisbon, The movement also has its tradition,
Portugal), of an international federation which can be traced back through
for the new museology. The movement’s neighbourhood museums, school mu-
basic philosophy is expressed in the seums, ecomuseums and more recent
‘Declaration of Quebec’ reproduced work in scenography.5 Finally, there were
opposite. the highlights of the Quebec meeting in
Why are all these people so dis- October 1984, the moderation of the
satisfied? What could have rallied so primacy of the word over action and of
many so quickly and with such a sense of hierarchy over conviviality, the self-
urgency to a concept still poorly defined management of workshops, integration
and a series of not always convergent with popular culture, and so on. The
initiatives? The cause must lie in the evening organized by thirteen villages in
museum establishment’sdelay in coming Haute-Beauce under the slogan of ‘Local
to terms with a number of contemporary, museums, for all, by all’ demonstrated
cultural, social and political develop- the feasibility of a popular museology, in
ments. To this must be added what we spite of the criticisms which might be
see as the cumbersome and uncommuni- levelled at it (self-indulgence, attach-
cativenature of the bodieswhich represent
it,’ and also, of course, the underlying 1. Jean-Pierre Laurent, ‘Des choses ou des
context of world crisis and re-evaluation gens: La réalité muséale en France [People or
Things: Museums in France]’, MNES INFO ... ,
of all human endeavour. But in our view Bulletin d’infomation, No. 1,July 1984, p. 1.
the main cause is the monolithic nature 2. Hugues de Varine, ‘Santiago da Chile,
of the museological establishment, the 1972-La muséologie rencontre le monde
moderne [Santiago, Chile, 1972-Museology
superficiality of the reforms which it pro- Meets the Modern World]’, October 1984.
poses and the marginalization of any ex- (Working document for the First International ’

Workshop on ‘Ecomuseumsand the New


periment or viewpoint which might be Museology’.)
described as at all committed. Why, for 3. Marc-Alain Maure, ‘Réflexion sur une
example, did the resolutions adopted by nouvelle fonction du musée [Thoughts on a New
Role for Museums]’, ICOM Education, 1977178,
the Santiago round table in 1972 receive p. 31: ‘Whether museum or not, this new
so little publicity and follow-up?z These institution, with its social functions that far
frus&aiions, added to those engendered surpass the bounds set for culturd activities in
the narrow sense, has an important part to play
by the rigidity of the system and its prin- in our world’.
ciples, might explain the enthusiasm 4. Hugues de Varine, ‘L‘Écomusée [The
Ecomuseum]’, Gazette de Z‘Association des
which is characteristic of the new Musés Canadiens (Ottawa), Vol. 104, No. 2,
museologists. The latter - .might be 1978, pp. 29-40.
reproached with rejecting the sacrosanct 5. Jean-Pierre Laurent, ‘Essai d’une nouvelle
muséologie de la ville [Attempt at a New Urban
principles of the profession and assigning Museology]’, Musées et col‘l’ections de France,
greater importance to social considera- 1983, p. 160, pp. 75-7.
The new museoLogy prodaimed 20 1

ment to the past, etc.): it was an indica- and René Rivard,b and they have their G . René Rivard, ‘Redéfinir la muséologie [A
tion that a new era was about to begin. origins of course in the ‘evolutive’defini- Redefinition of Museology]’, C o d t w i t é , No. 23,
Spring 1984, p. 21: ‘In short, certain basic
The semantic debates over the ‘Decla- tion proposed by Georges Henri Rivière. principles of the museum have been called into
ration of Quebec’ did not prevent the Their terms are the ‘integral museum’, question: building, collections, public, curators
emergence of a general consensus on the the ‘global museum’, popular and com- .
and display’. Que le musée s’ouvre ,. [Open the
Museums ...I, October 1984. (Unpublished paper
basic principles. Taking up once more the munity museology, interdisciplinarity, presented to participants in the First
ideas of the Santiago round table which development ... their ideological foun- International Workshop on ‘Ecomuseumsand the
New Museology’). Hugues de Varine, ‘Le musée
had been quietly shelved, the Declaration dations are the attempts made to socialize peut tuer ou ... faire vivre [The Museum can Kill
merely reaffirms the social mission of the museology and change attitudes. From or ... Keep Alive] ’, Techniques et architecture,
museum as a new point of departure and Santiago to Lisbon (1972 to 1985), we No. 326, September 1979, pp. 82-3: ‘It [the
museum] has a new mission: to reflect the entire
the primacy of this function over the have been witnessing a transition from environment and activity of man ... as a process
traditional museum functions: conserva- museology to social and political producing change ... I.

tion, buildings, objects and the public. awareness.


These probings and explanations owe
much to the writing of Hugues de Varine [ TransL’atedfromFrench]

Universal consideratiom world has been a critical factor in the development of the
communities which have adopted this method of managing
In a modern world which is attempting to muster all the their future,
resources that can contribute to development, museology must Considering the need felt by all participants in the various
seek to extend its traditional roles and functions of identifica- meetings and by the speakers consulted to do more to achieve
tion, conservation and education to initiatives which are more recognition for this movement,
far-reaching than these objectives, and thus integrate its action Considering the will to establish the organizational basis for
more succesfully into the human and physical environment. joint reflection and experiments conducted on several con-
In order to achieve this objective and at the same time involve tinents,
the public in its activities, museology must have increasing Consideringthe value of a reference framework designed to pro-
recourse to interdisciplinarity,modern methods of communica- mote the operation of the new forms of museology, and of
tion used in all cultural action, and modern management linking principles and means of action together in this way,
methods which involve the consumer. Considering that the theory of ecomuseums and community
While preserving the material achievements of past civiliza- museums (neighbourhood museums, local museums) is
tions and protecting the achievements characteristic of the based on experiments conducted in various areas over more
aspirations and technology of today, the new museology- than fifeen years,
ecomuseology, community museology and all other forms of ac-
tive museology-is primarily concerned with community The following is adopted:
development, reflecting the driving forces in social progress and that the &ternationai museum community be invited to
associating them in its plans for the future. recognize this movement and to adopt and accept all forms
This new movement puts itself firmly at the service of the of active museology in its typology of museums;
creative imagination, constructive realism and the humanitar- that all possible steps be taken to ensure that the public
ian principles upheld by the international community. It has authorities recognizelocal initiativesto apply these principles
become a way of bringing people together to learn about and assist in their development;
themselves and each‘other,to develop their critical faculties and that, in this spirit, the following permanent structures be
express their concern to establish together a world which takes established, in close collaboration, to make it possible for
a responsible attitude towards its own intrinsic riches. these forms of museology to develop and succeed: (a) an
In this context, the concerns of the movement, which is international committee for ecomuseumslcommunity
anxious to adopt a global approach, are scientific, cultural, museums within ICOM (International Council of Museums);
social and economic. (b) an international federation for the new museology which
The movement utilizes all the resources at the disposal of might be associated with ICOM and ICOMOS (International
museology (collection, conservation, scientific research, restitu- Council on Monuments and Sites) and whose temporary
tion and dissemination, creativity)and adapts them to each en- headquarters would be in Canada;
vironment and project. that a temporary working group be formed with the follow-
ing initial mandate: establishment of the proposed struc-
Declargtion tures, formulation of objectives, implementation of a
triennial programme of meetings and international
Considering that more than fifteen years of experience of a new collaboration.
type of museology-ecomuseology, community museology Quebec, 13 October 1984
and all other forms of active museology- throughout the [ Translatedfrom French]
202

R E F RACTIONS

Ecomaseams in Qaebec
René Rivard Before 1970 Quebec had few public federal organization did not permit it to
museums, no strong museological tradi- adopt an idea based on public participa-
Born in 1941at Victoriaville, Quebec. B.A. degree, tion, and little or nothing in the way of tion. Nevertheless, it sent a number of
1963. Administrator-supervisor of historic sites in ‘conservational’ restrictions. When the staff to study French parks and their ar-
Quebec and Ontario, 1970-72. Regional ad-
ministrator for Quebec, 1972-73. Head of inter-
region’s ‘quiet revolution’ got under rangements for conservation and public
pretation, museology and public service for Parks way, it stimulated a large section of the participation.
Canada in Quebec, 1973-79. Consultant in public to search for their identity and Visits and training periods were
museology, having founded the firm Muséart in brought them a new awareness of their gradually organized and more formal ex-
1978. Several missions for Unesco and ICOM. heritage. In Ontario and New Brunswick, changes took place. Quebec invited
the two Canadian provinces bordering Gérard Collin, Jean-Pierre Gestin and
Quebec, conventionalmuseums were be- Georges Henri Rivière, while France
ing developed at that time, together with welcomed René Milot, Carole Lévesque
open-air museums and model reconstruc- and René Rivard. The high point was
tions of historical scenes and old forts. reached in 1979 when, thanks to the
But museums in Quebec were dragging OFQT, one large group from each country
their feet, searching for an identity. followed a month’s course in the other
At that point, a number of factors country. The ecomuseum formula was
came into play that were gradually to considered very promising and Quebec
transform our museology, moving it took a lively interest in it.
towards the new idea of the ecomuseum.
There was the declaration of a first 1979-82: the first ecomzcseum in
cultural development policy for Quebec, Quebec
large-scale community development
work in some areas, experimentation A first, cautious experiment took place in
with new approaches to museum Haute-Beauce, where Pierre Mayrand
development, such as nature centres and assisted a group of people who were an-
interpretation centres, the move to xious to safeguard an important part of
Quebec of the federal bureaux of Parks their regional heritage without, however,
Canada (which deals with national parks putting it in a conventional museum. For
and historic sites) and, last but not least, this purpose, they established the Musée
the increasing involvement of the Office et Centre Régional d’Interprétation de la
Franco-Québecois pour la Jeunesse Haute-Beauce. This enabled the neglect-
(OFQJ) in major exchange programmes ed region to recover a measure of pride
between France and Quebec. through a clearer idea of its own identity
in the form of the kind of museum sup-
1974-79: Quebec deveZops an ported by its own people and with its own
interest in the ecomuseum financial resources. Its development,

A
carefully planned by Pierre Mayrand and
Informal contacts were established abour Maude Céré, paved the way for eventual
1974 between the French regional parks acceptance of the ecomuseum, the ap-
8 and a number of young museum profes- propriation and interpretation of its ter-
sionals from Quebec. Georges Henri ritory, and research into the collective
Rivière directed them towards Mont memory and popular creativity.
Lozère, Ouessant Island, the Landes of In spring 1980, a group of residents of
Gascony, and Le Creusot. Thanks to the the south centre district of Montreal who
shared language, documentation and worked in housing co-operatives decided
Creativity %. communications quickly crossed the to provide cultural facilities adapted to
8
% Atlantic to Quebec. The ecomuseum for- their situation, perceived as ‘blocked in
B mula was proposed to Parks Canada for time and space’. Claude Watters, who
Ecomuseum the group of historic buildings of had been living in the United States, sug-
Grande-Grave in the Forillon National gested the idea of a neighbourhood
Park. Unfortunately, the statutes of this museum similar to those in the deprived
Ecomgxerims irz Quebec 203

areas of American towns.' The ensuing page 202 is a genuine innovation and a
discussions among local people soon en- substantial contribution by the ecomu-
couraged the promoters to move on seums of Quebec to popular museology.
towards the idea of the fully fledged Its cyclical practice in time and regional
ecomuseum. space brings specific, attainable objec-
In this way, the Maison du Fier-Monde tives within the reach of the population as
was established and quickly took up the a whole. 'Haute-Beauce Créatrice', an
13
people's demands for improvement of operation conducted in 1983, gave the Three-dimensional display by the people of
the environment and quality of life of thirteen villages of the ecomuseum an Lambton for 'Haute-Beauce Créatrice' in
this working-classarea. The development opportunity to express their appropria- 1983.
zone of Montreal had been somewhat tion of their territory by means of
distortëd by urban development, which monumental symbols and creative acti-
had set up the University of Quebec there, vities. The Maison du Fier-Mondedid the
as well as the French language broad- same, with a collective mural, communi-
casting centre of Radio Canada. The area t y activities in the district, and exhibi-
had also been split in two by a motorway tions connected with the search for
and over four hundred houses had been identity.
demolished in the process. Thus the Two new ecomuseums opened-
Maison du Fier-Monde soon became, to Deux-Rives in the Valleyfield area and
use its own description, 'a campaigning Saint-Constant, on the Saint Lawrence
ecomuseum' . River opposite Montreal. These last two,
Other experimental ecomuseums took like the ecomuseums of La Rouge Valley
shape in 1981-82in LaRouge Valley, part and the islands in the Saint Lawrence,
of the 'high country' of the Laurentides, have consolidated their positions and, in
and in the Iles du Lac Saint-Pierre, an spite of a certain amount of hesitation
archipelago on the Saint Lawrence River and opposition, prepared very promising

-
which forms a frail natural and cultural activities. At the JAL, in Témiscouata
environment. This ecomuseum is known County, the idea of starting an eco-
as the Insulaire. museum has been maturing for some e-
Hugues de Varine visited Haute- time within the context of a vast co- R*, .
Beauce and the other new ecomuseumsin operative development movement.2
1981 and advocated action that was more Today, the Quebec Association of
direct and more involved in the socio- Ecomuseums has six members. In May
economic development of the areas they 1983, it organized a one-day conference
covered. The courses in museology and which was attended by Hugues de Varine
heritage offered by the University of and non-specialist representatives of all
Quebec and by Laval University discussed the Quebec ecomuseums. The con-
the ecomuseums unambiguously and ference decided to hold the First Interna-
several students took an active part in tional Workshop on 'Ecomuseums and
their activities and their development. the New Museology', an itinerant sym-
Thus the ecomuseum took its place in the posium which took place in Quebec in
museum vocabulary and museum system October 1984 and led to an international
of Quebec. grouping of the principal exponents of
popular museology.
Subsequent developments
The state of uffaìrsìn Quebec
In accordance with the wishes of the local 14
people, the museum and interpretation It is interesting to note that the six Poster for one of the activities at the Maison
centre of Haute-Beauce was renamed in ecomuseums of Quebec all originated in du Fier-Monde in Montreal: an exhibition
1983 the Écomusée de la Haute-Beauce. different ways. None of them is a product for the reopening of the Saint-Jacques
market, converted into offices by the town
This change confirms the success of a of the parks system, as is most often the council.
three-year plan drawn up in 1980 and im- case in France. It is therefore worth com-
plemented by means of the 'triangle paring the different reasons which led to
of creativity' and courses in popular the founding of the Quebec ecomu-
museology . Thanks to these courses and seums: Haute-Beazlce-preventing the
to the methods of interpretation and removal of items of local heritage col-
community organization employed, the lected by a self-taught ethnographer;
public is progressing confidently towards
the appropriation of its neighbourhood 1. See article by John R. Kinard on page
and is developing museographical re- 2 17-Ed.
sources with which to attain the objec- 2. The acronym JAL is the name of a tourism
corporation created by three villages
tives of the ecomuseum. threatened by extinction- Saint-Just, Auclair
The triangle of creativity shown on and Lejeune-which decided to join forces.
204 René Rivard

15 16
Spring landscape in Haute-Beauce. Autumn landscape in La Rouge Valley.

Maison dzc Fier-Monde-a need for ap- isolated nor made remote from the
propriate cultural facilities and means of popular objectives given to their
defence for housing co-operatives in a research work by the ecomuseums.
working-classdistrict; InszcZaire- the in- The courses in popular museology that
itiative of a heritage student confronted have been on offer for a number of
with a frail natural and cultural environ- years, especially in Haute-Beauce, are
ment that was further threatened by in- not only an innovation in the practice
considerate tourism; La Rozcge VaZZey - of ecomuseums but are also a very
a heritage society concerned with inter- effective means of dispelling mis-
pretation and community action; Saint- understandings about. museums in
Constant-a project by an ecological general, of encouraging participation
education centre, which is growing into in the development of the ecomu-
an ecomuseum; Dax-Rives- a cultural seum’s aids to interpretation and of
centre set up in 1979 which was devel- providing competent workers for com-
oped into an ecomuseum following a munity action.
seminar on popular museology in 1984. The collective memory of the public is the
The ecomuseums of Quebec can take primary heritage of the ecomuseum,
pride in certain special features that mark and it is studied not only by a few
them off from European ecomuseums, isolated researchers and scientists but
thus demonstrating their distinctive by the people themselves, guided by
character and initiative and hence their the most active already among them or
contribution to the advancement of what who come to the fore.
we call the new museology. These The people have also to a certain extent
features may be summarized as follows: regained their ‘power of naming’ or of
Public participation is not only con- redefining their territory, resuming
sidered essential, but it is sought, en: with increased creativitythis activity so
couraged and very often obtained at dear to their ancestors who, a little over
unexpected levels. a century ago, had done the same
This participation does not just consist of when they opened up Haute-Beauce
voluntary work; it is also financial, and La Rouge Valley.
since ecomuseums are funded chiefly, An increasing concern by the people
or almost exclusively, by subscription living in the areas of the ecomuseums
and individual contribution. . with working on a variety of socio-
The approach of *e ecomuseums in economic development projects, in the
Quebec is at once interdisciplinaryand country, in villages and in towns, and
non-disciplinary, in that none of them a desire to keep these projects on a local
has the scientific committee that or human scale compatible with the
French ecomuseums have. This fact public’s wishes.
does not in any way denote fear or dis- A high level of exchange among.the eco-
dain of the strict, scientific approach. museums of Quebec, and between
It shows a preference for integrating them and ecomuseums in other coun-
professional researchers with the local tries, and any organization working in
people and, through the users’ com- the fields of popular education,
mittee, ensuring that they are neither economic development, and heritage
Ecomuseums in Quebec 205
I
appreciation. A number of useful part- It is a little over ten years now since that
nerships have been established, for ex- first encounter between the people of
ample between two ecomuseums in Quebec and Georges Henri Rivière,
Quebec and between the ecomuseum which initiated the ecomuseum move-
of Haute-Beauce and the one in ment in Quebec. Now that the ‘father of
Coglais in Brittany, as well as between the ecomuseum’ is no more, Quebec
an ecomuseum and two other brings its own jewel to the crown of
museums in a particular region, form- ecomuseums in different parts of the
ing a network that can offer local peo- world, a living crown, resplendent to his
ple and visitors a greater range of ser- memory.
vices and more effective means for
concerted museum activity. [ Translatedfrom French]

17
People’s outdoor exhibition ,onthe occasion
of the Hay Festival at Saint-Evariste, Haute-
Beauce.
206

The ecommeam concept


is taking root iiz Sweden

Kjell Engström Over the last few decades the develop- marin and Paris.’ Here many of the basic
ment of museology in Sweden has been principles of the ecomuseum were for-
Born in 1929. Studied zoology, botany, geography dynamic. A new look has been taken at mulated and examined for the first time
at the University of Stockholm, Ph.D. in zoology. the functioning of the old, well-estab- by an international group. There have
University lecturer, 1957-65. Director of the public lished museums. Their documentation been many subsequent attempts to ex-
department of the Swedish Museum of Natural
History since 1965. During the 1950s he was systems have been analysed and made plain the concept further. I myself should
employed as secretary of the Swedish Society for the more rational; there has been intense like to sum up these discussions and the
Protection of Nature and as editor of its periodical. discussion and up-dating of display practical experience gained from the first
Chairman of the Swedish Museums’ Association, techniques. In particular, the role of museums of this kind that have been
1975-81; Chairman of the Swedish National Com-
mittee of ICOM, 1975-81; Chairman of the Inter-
museums in society has been widely established.
national Committee for Natural History Museums debated. As a result, public interest The cqncept of ‘ecology’is fundamen-
since 1980. Member of the Executive Council of in museums has grown and hence the tal. The word itself, derived from the
ICOM. Responsible for the planning of a Museum number of visitors as well. This in turn Greek oikos (household or living place),
ofthe Mountains and Samish Culture at Jokkmokk. has led the creationof many new was coined by the German biologist
specialized museums covering subjects Haeckel in 1873 for that branch of
such as the forest, toys, motor cars, avia- biology which deals with the interrela-
tion and the coastal islands. The tions between organisms and their en-
ecomuseum concept has also come to the vironment. From the earliest discussions
fore in the planning of new museums in on the characteristic features of eco-
Sweden, despite the fact that there is still museums one of the fundamental prin-
great uncertainty about what an ciples laid down was that they had to be
ecomuseum actually is. This is a question based on an ecological point of view.
much discussed at many congresses and Thus they must truly reflect the develop-
conferences in recent years and as a result ment of cultural and economic life in
we have just about managed to agree on relation to the conditions and limitations
a few straightforward definitions. set by the natural surroundings of the
region concerned.
What is an ecomuseum? This ecological approach requires an

My own understanding of an ecomuseum 1. Extracts from the conclusion of the


is based on the discussions of a sympo- symposium were published in a special issue of
Museum entitled ‘Museums and Environment’,
sium on ‘Museums and Environment’ Vol. M N , No. 1/2, 1973. The author wrote the
held in 1972 at Bordeaux, Istres, Lour- editorial for that issue-Ed.

18
Map showing how the establishment of a
steelworks has affected the economy of the
region, from an exhibition at the
Vasterbotten Museum prepared in 1975.
This photograph first appeared in Per-Uno
Agren’s article ‘On the Preparation of a
New Exhibit in the Regional Museum of
Västerbotten (Sweden)’, Mzrseum,
Vol. XXVII, NO. 3 , 1976, pp. 170-5.
The ecomuseum concebt is ta4ina root in Sweden 207

integration of &sc+lines: to highlight primarily not on the form and organiza-


and describe the interactions between tion adopted but rather on the lines of
the natural conditions and technical, emphasis selected, which should en-
economic and cultural development it is courage the local population to take an
necessary to call upon various scientific interest in their own region and culture 19
disciplines together. Thus the eco- and in so doing give them a greater say in Organizational chart of the planned Samish
museum cannot fit in with the traditional their own future. Such an approach museum.
classification according to subject, since should also strengthen the desire to make
its distinctive feature is precisely the in- the region known to others.
tegration of several different subjects.
Another important principle is the Does Sweden possess museums
museum's regionalcharacter. A region in meeting these criteria?
this sense is not primarily an area defined
by administrative or legal boundaries, The short answer is no-there is no
unless they happen to coincide with the museum which meets them in full,
boundaries of a zone that forms a whole, though a whole range of museums and
because of the unity of its traditions, related activities go some way towards
natural setting and economic life- for satisfying the principles we have men-
example a mining region, a river valley, tioned.
farming country or an industrial zone. For example, the SkansenPark open-air
Nor can the idea of an ecomuseum be museum in Stockholm, designed along
confined to the building that houses it the lines laid down for it by Arthur
and is located in a particular spot: it must
be extended to cover a complex of
Hazelius, has played an important role in
refining the ideas underlying the first - Ovedi policy and ducction
"mange of dormation
facilities all contributing to the same end definitions of an ecomuseum formulated __ Managmutt
and laid out according to the centres of by Georges Henri Rivière.2The basic idea
interest of that particular museum. of an open-air museum is to group
Lastly, and this is a vital principle, the together in some easily accessible place,
design of an ecomuseum cannot simply buildings that come from different
be left to some central institution and localities and periods and to set them in 20
VÄSTERBOTTENS LÄNS MUSEET,
merely take the form of buildings set surroundings that recall their original Umeå. A travelling exhibition on this
aside for academic gatherings, exhibi- environment. In many cases, this is 'provincial museum for local history and
tions and educational activities. It must backed up by activities connected with culture'.
be brought into being in codlaboration craftwork, farming or the use of various
with the popdation and reflect their bygone techniques, all these activities
desire to explore, document and explain being designed to give a general picture
their own history. An ecomuseum must of some particular period and its living
be intimately associatedwith the regional
population and planned so as to give
2. See article entitled 'Skansen-a Stock-
them a say in its development. Successful taking.at Ninety', M u ~ e z ~ m , XXXIV, No. 3,
Vol.
attainment of this aim will depend 1982, pp. 173-8-Ed.

21
JÄMTLANDS LÄNS MUSEET, OsterSund.
Summer cottage with cattle- and milking-
shed in the old village of this open-air
museum devoted particularly to Lapp
culture. Fourteen such regional or local
museums were described in Mueum,
Vol. X, No. 3, 1957, in which this
photograph first appeared.
208

conditions but based essentially on cultural atmosphere. Although this type A new museum on the
ethnological observation and popular of organization has been called an eco- ‘ecomuseum’ modeZ
traditions. At the end of the nineteenth museum, there is no link with ecology
century many open-air museums of this and no integration of disciplines, nor Since 1980 the concept of a museum
type were established in Sweden, most does the population have a decisive part based on that of an ecomuseum has been
of them on the initiative of local asso- to play in developing the project. Such developing in Sweden. The attempt
ciations. Generally speaking, the theme institutions should therefore be classed dates back to the early 1970s, with the
of the exhibition (the houses and as historico-industrial or ‘fragmented’ launching of a project to create a national
associated material objects) is reinforced museums, an outstanding example being parks museum to serve as an introduction
by displays of woodwork, the weaving of the one at Ironbridge in England.3 for visitors to the big national parks
textiles, farming methods, traditional There is another longstanding activity located in the mountains of Lapland.
craftwork, music, dancing, folk-tales and worthy of interest in this context, even This museum was to be established at
so forth. though, strictly speaking, it has little to Jokkmokk, a commune harbouring some
In many respects these local parks and do with museums. In Sweden there exists of the largest national parks.
open-air museums come close to the an extensive network of study groups, Although this project was not carried
ecomuseum. As a rule, however, there is with which local associations are very through at the time, it caught the public
no apparent link with the theme of often involved. Thus, through circles for eye again towards the end of the 1970s.
ecology or any concern to integrate the study of local history, a great many With the authorities deciding to call a
various disciplines, and, in many cases, excellent projects have helped those con- halt to the development of its hydroelec-
no relation to current social devel- cerned to build up a detailed knowledge tric resources, the region was threatened
opments; moreover, they are usually ex- of their local and national past. Studies of with widespread unemployment, and it
tremely local in character. Several large this type strengthen the interest shown in was against this changed background that
provincial museums have similar the development of society but lead in I was asked to examine once again the
features, and ongoing efforts to revitalize only a limited way to the accumulation possibility of implementing the museum
some of these institutions are often of material relating to local traditions project in question.
directed at types of activity resembling and knowledge, objects and documents The study to be undertaken was based
those of an ecomuseum. gathered and preserved by the communi- on several fundamental assumptions.
Some innovative projects recently ty itself. The museum had to serve as a national‘
made public also follow this new trend, Thus Sweden does have a number of parks museum and therefore provide
which is a sign of adaptation to the museums and related activities based on visitors to the big national parks with in-
present-day car-based form of tourism principles closely linked to the eco- formation on the natural environment,
and the long journeys it makes possible. museum concept. Perhaps this is why the history and the economic life of the
The principle consists in using a single set the ecomuseum itself has not yet really regions concerned. To achieve this there
of facilities to present the economic taken root in the country. Perhaps the would be close co-operation with the
history of an entire region, above all by fact that ecomuseums have developed various authorities and organizations in-
evoking its industries, architecture and mainly in France bears some relation to volved in one way or another with
that country’s traditionally more rigorous tourism and public information. The
classification by discipline and to the museum had to serve also as a Swedish
3. See article by Neil Cossons, founder-director emergence of a trend arising from museum of the mountains by organiz-
of the museum, entitled ‘The Museum in the
Valley, Ironbridge Gorge’, Mtuezrm, Vol. research conducted in the 1970s on new ing documentation and information
XXXII, NO. 3, 1980, pp. 138-53-Ed. ways of organizing museum activities. activities on the natural environment,

22
A typical reindeer herding scene in the
1940s.
The ecomuseum concebt is tahine root in Sweden 209

ecology, population and the economic


and cultural life of those regions.
During the 1970s the Nordic Same
Council resolved to establish a Central
Lappish Masezm in Norway, Sweden
and Finland. Could the parks museum
serve this purpose for Sweden? One im-
portant factor to be taken into account
was that the already existing communal
museum possessed a collection composed
mainly of Lappish objects. The museum
could probably even act as a local centre
f o r cahralactivities, open to the popula-
tion of the surrounding mountain
region.
Since a policy based on such premises
pointed quite naturally to the idea of an
ecomuseum and the methods this im-
plied, I obviously took it as a model for
my final version of the project. This
meant that a good many conditions had 23
to be respected. based on farming, forestry, hunting and The changing ecology of the region, the
This particular region hA a very special fishing, the means of livelihood avail- real challenge for the new museum. Here a
natural environment that in many ways able to the population have also been helicopter replaces dogs to herd reindeer up
the mountain.
restricts human activities considerably, profoundly transformed since the begin-
but at the same time it possesses several of ning of this century. A long period
Sweden’s principal natural resources, devoted to the development of hy-
such as mineral deposits, hydroelectric droelectric resources is now coming to an
power and forests. The region served by end, and the local population is faced
the museum could not be based on ad- with extensive unemployment. In conse-
ministrative boundaries except where quence, local movements and the bodies
they coincided with those of the moun- concerned with the people’s education
tain zone itself. are finding themselves entrusted with the
As the population has long lived in vital work of documenting this process
almost total dependence on nature, it is and persuading the population to set
impossible to comprehend the culture about finding solutions to their current
that has emerged in the region without problems. In this work, the museum can
taking the natural surroundings in which play the key role of an activities and
it developed into consideration. In many documentation centre, making its skills
regions the Lappish population continue available to the public.
to live from the same principal occupa- A museum that decides on this ap-
tion- the raising of reindeer -as they proach extends its traditional role of
have done for centuries, though this ac- building up collections, conservation,
tivity is now being rapidly modernized. documentation and education. It will
Raising reindeer depends entirely on a also be capable of assuming the decisive
balanced use of the natural environment, task of getting the population of a region
but it is at present under heavy pressure not only to perceive the chain of cause
from hydroelectric power stations, min- and effect in the changes taking place and
ing, the development of tourist facilities, then analyse its consequences, but also to
the acquisition of country houses, the ex- set about solvingfor themselves the prob-
pansion of the road network and other lems at issue. This broader scope and the
side effects of a technological society. As methods now being developed make this
a result, the traditional Lappish economy museum into something different and
and culture are in the midst of a profound justify the name of ecomuseum.
transformation, and there is little time to A study carried out in 1980-81 resulted
collect materials on this process. There is in a practical museum project that could
an evident determination within the Lap- be expected to meet all the objectives
pish population, to set up itself a central mentioned above. After much reflection
museum dedicated to its own culture and and discussions with the various parties
capable in addition of playing an impor- concerned, the government decided in
tant role as a centre for cultural documen- February 1983 to set up an institution
tation and activities. to build and run the planned museum.
After several centuries of an economy In this institution are represented
2 10 Kjell Engström

24
Forty years later, motor-cycles being 1used by
reindeer herders.

the state, the commune of Jokkmokk, few hundred years: in former times peo- leadership for the region’s population as
the Norrbotten Provincial Council and ple’s lives in these regions depended en- well as for visitors from elsewhere.
two Lappish organizations, the Nation- tirely on the natural conditions, whereas Since the summer of 1983 a small
al Association of Swedish Lapps4 and today nature is subject to the conditions group of people have been working on
the Same Atnam association.5 AJTTE, imposed by human beings. The fragile the plans for the museum, which are now
the name given to the museum, is a Lap- ecosystem has been radically transformed ready. Building work is due to begin in
pish word denoting a wooden shed, built in the last few decades by, for example, the summer of 1985. The museum
on piles, in which household utensils, hydroelectric schemes, forestry and min- should be installed by the spring of 1987,
clothes and various bits and pieces are ing activities, the expansion of the road and it is hoped that some of the displays
stored between the autumn migration network and the introduction of new tree and training activities can then begin. It
from mountain pasture to forest and the species and new species of fish. will, however, be several more years
return in the spring. If the visitor wishes to deparc from the before the programme is carried out in
The museum’s collections will range central theme he can explore certain areas full.
from photographs and films, sound re- set aside for. systematic collections that If we succeed in carrying through the
cordings of oral traditions and folk music give a more detailed presentation than project as we intend, the museum should
to books and other written material. It the thematic display. In addition, there then function as an ecomuseum, called
should also be involved in research on a are plans for a reading room, a study upon to play a major role in cultural as
permanent basis, with a special emphasis room, and areas for temporary exhibi- well as the social development of the
on developing the Lappish section so that tions and various other intellectual ac- locality and its vast hinterland.
it can serve as the central museum of the tivities.
Lappish culture in Sweden in the way The exhibitions organized by the [ Transhedfrom Swedirh]
mentioned above.6 museum should not be confined to the
The museum is to be organized along building itself. For example, smaller 4 . The members of the governing body are
the lines indicated in Figure 19. Its per- displays, habitat restoration work, or designated by the various organizations involved.
5. The members of the Lappish Council are all
manent exhibitions should combine the various other local activities could, in col- elected by the Lappish organizations. ‘Same’ is
natural and historico-culturalaspects in a laboration with a variety of local groups the Lapps’ own term for themselves in their
thematic display devoted to the moun- and.associatiom, be undertaken on the Finno-Ugrian language and is also employed by
the states in which they live.
tain environment and its climate, the ‘outpost’ principle, using facilities away 6 . The museum will seek to achieve a broader
ways in which the people have used from the museum itself but fully in- impact among the population it serves than is
reflected in its governing body, the aim being to
nature and how the various forms of tegrated with the purposes of an involve a wide range of organizations and
culture developed in each period. These ecomuseum. With its wide variety of institutions, including religious circles, local
displaysshould, in aclear and straightfor- planned activities of all kinds, its publica- Lappish associations, nature conservation
societies, academic institutions, the nearest
ward manner, take visitors through the tions and its exhibitions, the museum regional museums, representatives of the schools
changes that have occurred over the last will provide both information and active and the education authorities.
The deveZopment of eco ìa PortzcggaZ

Since the Revolution of 25 April 1974, time, to discover local resources in the António Nabais
more and more local cultural activities spheres of the economy, energy, tech-
have sprung up which reflect the specific nology, tourism, culture and leisure. Born in August 1947 at Oliveira de Frades Viseu,
character of each community in Portugal. Most of the local museums which apply Portugal. Master’s degree in history, University of
The local museums that have come into these principles have continued, how- Lisbon; course in curatorship at the Portuguese
Cultural Heritage Institute. Director of the Seixal
being in the past ten years have benefited ever, to be designated as municipal Ecomuseum; history teacher at secondary level and
from the effects of democracy in general museums and identified by the name of at the International University for the Elderly
and the democratic management of local the locality (usually the largest town in (UITI). Has published Hihona do Concelho do
communities in particular, and have the area). With the advent of this active Setjcal (Vol. 1: Crono/ogiu, Vol. 2: BUYCOS, Seixal,
EdiçLodaCamaraMunicipaldo Seixal, 1981,1982),
become useful tools for those who found- museology practised by them, the con- as well as articles on local history in various journals.
ed and who continue to run them. These cept of the museum has become broader,
museums, without overlooking the extending beyond the confines of the
general objectives that make *amuseum former palace, convent or other building
what it is, namely, collecting, preserving, used as a museum, to encompass the en-
studying, exhibiting and making known tire territory where human activity has
the material and spiritual traces of left its mark on the natural landscape.
human lives in their environment, have Thus museums with these innovatory fea-
added a new dimension to traditional tures may be found attached to a munici-
museology. Besides building up collec- pality (Seixal Ecomuseum, Alcochete
tions, they seek to make use of the tangi- Ecomuseum, Rural and Wine-grow-
ble and intangible cultural heritage that ing Ecomuseum of the Municipality of
can help to understand, explain and Cartaxo, Benavente Museum), a parish
experience the social, economic and (Escalhão), several parishes (Ethnological
historical circumstances that moulded Museum of Monte Redondo) or a small
the various communities. town (Mértola). Their organization
The theoretical and practical principles follows the well-established pattern. A
of the ecomuseum movement have been central unit houses the permanent exhi-
particularly well received by the popula- bition and auxiliary departments respon-
tion and by many community leaders. In sible for collection, restoration, studies,
25
a period of crisis they afford means of documentation, reserves, temporary ex- ECOMUSEU D O SEIXAL. Didactic display
reflection and study that may help them hibitions and educational activities. on fishing in the central unit of the
to solve their problems and, at the same From this point, visitors are directed to museum.

26
MUSEU ETNOLÓGICO DE MONTE
RED ONDO. Saddler’s workshop.
212 António Nubais

LI
Repair of a cistern using local skills at
Noudar.

the museological units distributed over hand, was the municipal museum of
the territory covered. These units afford a Seixal, described in my article on the sub-
means not only of decentralizing activi- ject in Mzcseum.3Whennominating it for
ties and facilities but also of involving the the European Museum of the Year Award
population in preserving and re-using in Kenneth Hudson wrote as follows:
sitg the significant buildings and objects
that make up the local heritage. A further In Portugal we were highly impressed
28 innovative feature of these local mu- by the style and effectiveness of the
MUSEU DO MÉRTOLA. Beginners’ course seums is the variety of their collections, new museums of Seixal and Santiago
on the restoration of wooden polychrome which reflect the many different aspects do Cacém. ...In all these places, excep-
sculpture. of life in the area concerned: geographi- tional talent, enthusiasm and origi-
cal, social, cultural, historical, artistic, nality, combined with the acceptance
technological, and so on. The local in- of very long working hours, have pro-
habitants are, of course, closely involved. duced results that might seem impossi-
They bring in objects, provide informa- ble to persons working in museums of
tion about some of the specimens used, a more conventional type and in richer
participate in the rescue and restoration countries.
of objects and help with studies and pro-
motional activities. In November 1984 this museum attained
The idea of establishing a Portuguese a new stage in its development with the
ecomuseum first arose in 1979, in con- reopening of a traditionally constructed ,
nection with the Natural Park of Serra de shipyard; made over to it by the General
Estrela.’ Under the supervision of Port Authority of Lisbon. This unit is in-
Georges Henri Rivière, who twice visited stalled in a former shipyard in Arrentela.
the site, a tearfl of university researchers It shows the spatial layout of a shipyard
undertook the preliminary work neces- with all its infrastructures, and houses an
sary for the opening of such a museum. exhibition that depicts nautical life on
The team made contact with the local the Tagus estuary (shipbuilding, river
people, collected ethnographic materials, traffic, fishing), including typical boats
acquired buildings characteristic of the salvaged by the local authorities: the
local architecture and started to carry out fiegata, varino and f i h a . The fiha, en-
scientific research on an interdisciplinary tirely restored, is used for guided visits
basis. There the project came to a halt. As
has been explained by the landscape ar- 1. Fernando Pessoa, ‘Ecomuseu e parque
chitect Fernando Pessoa, who was one of natural: uma filosofia ecológica de
regionalizaçao’, Natureza e Paisagem (Portugal,
the driving forces behind this venture, National Department of Parks, Reserves and the
‘the project miscarried as a result of the Environmental Heritage), No. 6, December
ignorance of certain sectors of central 1978.
2. Fernando Pessoa, ‘O ecomuseu’, Diáno de
government and their inability to see noticias, 19 December 1984.
beyond matters of immediate, limited 3. António José Nabais, ‘The Municipal
Museum of Seixal- An Ecomuseum of
interest’ .2 Development’, Museum, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2,
A successful project, on the other 1984, pp. 71-4.
The developnent of ecomu.reumJ in PortugaL 213

29
ECOMUSEUD O ALCOCHETE.
The salt
marshes.

along the tributaries of the Tagus, allow- The educational department of the
ing visitors to see close up the still-visible ecomuseum has improved the quality of
traces of earlier activities in the form, for its service to educational establishments
instance, of water-mills driven by tidal by organizing temporary and travelling
energy, cod-drying installations, large exhibitions and cultural activities in col-
and small harbours, and shipyards. The laboration with schools, or study tours of
fitting out of this unit would not have the various units. So that these study
been possible without the help of former tours can be made throughout the area,
workers from the ship-building yards - the municipality of Seixal has purchased
shipwrights and caulkers-who offered a coach for local people’s use. The
their tools and provided information ecomuseum, meanwhile, is able to pro-
about the woodworkingtechniques tradi- vide students, researchers and teachers
tionally used in those shipyards. This with written and iconographic documen-
historical unit in Arrentela, where ship- tation together with objects illustrating
building activitiescan be traced back to at various economic activitiespursued in the
least the time of the Portuguese expan- area. The local people, who are mainly
sion, also offers the facilities needed for labourers and workers in the tertiary sec-
the establishment of a shipbuilding tor, request the museum’s support for
school, where the instructor will be the group cultural activities in accordance
shipwright who made the models of with their aims. The museum’s sphere of
typical Tagus riverboats at the naval action already extends beyond the limits
history unit and who describes to visitors of the municipality. Local authorities,
the traditional techniques used in educational institutions, associationsand
building wooden ships. other private or public bodies regularly
A water-mill unit is now being request its assistance. 30
prepared. It is hoped that the research ECOMUSEURURAL E DO V I N H O D O
CONCELHO D O CARTAXO. Appropriate
and restoration work will be completed The Ethnological Musezcm of Monte contacts with the local population in the
shortly and that it will then be able to Redondo taberna.
operate in the service of the community
as a study and research centre. Plans are Founded in 1781, this museum has a
in hand for other units, in the form of the notably innovative approach. Although
lime-kiln, the winepress, the oil-press, in the beginning the idea was to follow
old harbours, archaeological sites traditional museological practice, con-
(Roman and industrial), old parts of the fined to the collection and exhibition of
city and the cultural heritage centre, ‘ethnographic’ objects, local forces and
which already form part of the local factors combined to influence the
ecomuseum itinerary. A water unit has original project. The organizing group
been established in a pumping station, rapidly became aware of the ‘limitations
featuring ancient and modern equip- of a museology cut off from its material
ment that illustrates the development of and social environment and thus con-
the water-supply system from early times demned to be no more than a form of
to the present day. monologue’.
2 14 António Nubuis

Recasting the original project, the cobblers, blacksmiths, pruners, wheel- research work, draw up the museum’s
sponsors laid down the following princi- wrights, dyers, weavers and mat makers, programmes, prepare projects, organize
ple: ‘The museum should contribute to as well as agricultural implements, fur- symposia and establish contacts between
improving the material and cultural liv- niture and folk costumes. Consideration the population and the municipal and
ing conditions of the local population’.4 is being given to ways of establishing parish councillors.
True to this principle, the museum, museum units, in particular through The museum’s central section will be
whose area of influence extends over the bringing back into operation saltworks devoted to the simultaneous evolution of
parishes of Monte Redondo and Bajouca, that have not been used for some years. the people and the territory of the mun-
adopted a new plan of action. A par- In addition to these activities of collec- icipality. Other units deal with those
ticularly noteworthy innovation is the tion and research, the Ethnological economic activities that, in the course of
dialogue that has been set up between Museum of Monte Redondo organizes history, have been most prevalent in the
specialists, local councillors, and the temporary exhibitions and publishes, region, such as the working of the salt
public, who participate together as a mat- under the direction of Armindo de San- marshes, agriculture, shipbuilding and
ter of course in the various activities, tos, the periodical Meridies, which serves river transport. The saltworks unit will
ranging from the collection and study of as a link between the museum and consist of an old saltworks that continues,
objects to the acquisition of premises and universities and research centres, both alongside other, modernized saltworks,
fund-raising for the museum, and in- national and international. to function with traditional equipment
cluding promotional work and adver- -the outbuildings, implements, pump,
tising. Akocbete Ecomuseum machines, etc. The rural unit is to be
The interdisciplinary nature of the housed in an old farm possessing the
research is guaranteed by the composi- In Alcochete, on the south bank of the locally used means of water supply in the
tion of the team of specialists, which has Tagus estuary, the organization of an form of a noria, a well and a tank. There
anthropologists, geographers, an histo- ecomuseum has already reached an ad- will be a display of farming implements,
rian and an ethnomusicologist as its vanced stage. The municipality has taken collected by Jacome Ratton, which
members. These specialists organize the the necessary steps to enable it to open, illustrate rural life and technological
collections (inventory and card index) by fitting out premises for the central sec- change in farms ranging in size from the
and the general document holdings, and tion and the museum units distributed smallholding to the large landed estate in
encourage the study of the anthropology, through the area and by providing aid for the municipality of Alcochete. Other
history, entomology, botany, ethno- research, particularly in the fields of ar- museum units are to be established in the
musicology and popular architecture of chaeology, ethnology and history. All area in order to preserve in situ the most
the region. The museum has established this work of seeking out and collecting significant material vestiges of local
permanent contacts with the university, objects that are representative of life in history: bread ovens, lime-kilns, potters’
not only through the work of these the municipality has been accomplished kilns, windmills, and so on.
specialists but also through its logistic with the active collaboration of the in- Museum visits will include visits to the
support (accommodation, transport, habitants. The people’s local repre- Reserve of the Tagus estuary, partly in-
meals, photographic equipment, etc.) sentatives have taken a keen interest cluded in the local administrative area,
for the student groups that carry out work in establishing the museum and have and the old city centre. During the pre-
in the area covered. made an effort to promote teamwork. paratory phase, study tours, symposia
The various collections illustrate the Specialists-outside museologists, ar- and exhibitions were organized for the
main economic activities in the region. chitects, engineers, ethnologists and
They include the articles used by resin archaeologists-have given freely of 4. Museu Etnológico de Monte Redondo,
tappers, pit-sawyers, potters, tanners, their services in helping to do all the Meridies, No. 1, Monte Redondo, 1984.

31
ECOMUSEURURALE D O V I N H O D O
CONCELHOD O CARTAXO. The central
building of the museum.
The development of ecomuseums in Portugal 215

local inhabitants, especially for school- At the beginning of the present leading economic activity. Plans for the
children. decade, the niunicipality of Cartaxo took museum include units that will be used
the first steps towards establishing a local simultaneously as study and research cen-
Other initiatives museum: it purchased an old farm, tres. The itineraries envisaged will even-
Quinta das Pratas, converted it to house tually result in a Wine Route which will
In Portimão, a city in southern Portugal, the museum facilities and exhibition combine tourism proper with an in-
a commission has been set up to organize rooms and acquired a varied collection troduction to the economic life of the
the municipal museum. For some time it put together by the farmer and region. The aim of the ecomuseum is to
has concerned itself with inventorying, stockbreeder Duarte de Oliveira. The ex- make a useful contribution to the
collecting, preserving and studying the hibits, although numerous and valuable, development of the region by encourag-
cultural heritage, particularly the in- did not adequately illustrate the pre- ing people to make better use of local
dustrial heritage. There are fish can- dominant agricultural activity, wine- natural and human resources.
neries, only recently closed, which are growing. This gap was filled thanks to the Five years ago a novel experiment in ar-
essential to any study of the contem- collaboration of the local population, chaeology and museology was launched
porary history of Portugal and which who, understanding the purpose and in Mértola. There, too, from the outset,
form an integral part of the historical value of the museum, donated objects councillors, specialists and local people
landscape of Portimão, as do the relating to the various stages of wine pro- joined forces to protect, study and make
neighbouring shipyards. The work under duction. In 1984, the Cartaxo municipal known their cultural heritage. Dr
way has led to the salvaging of old council organized meetings between Cláudio Torres, in charge of the ar-
machines, lithographic presses and other farmers, councillors and specialists to chaelogical aspects, has said of the work
printing equipment to be reused for discuss what type of museum would con- in progress:
educational and cultural purposes. vey the truest image of local life and best
The museum’s activities will be con- respond to the real concerns of the peo- Archaeology here is seen as a means of
ducted throughout the municipality, ple. In the same year, an exhibition was access to a body of knowledge arising
especially in the Arade River basin, where organized to give the public an oppor- from the aggregate of both the near
urgent measures need to be taken against tunity to see what kind of museum was and the distant past. This aggregate is
pollution of the water, gradual deteriora- being planned for Cartaxo and to the foundation of the community’s
tion of the banks and silting of the discover and appreciate the local collective memory and of a heritage
riverbed. heritage. The Rural and Wine-growing that is its inalienable birthright. Our
The immediate aims of the Municipal Ecomuseum of the Municipality of Car- task was to recover and give permanent
Museum of Portimão are to fmd solutions tax0 consists of a central unit housed in form to that memory, its strucmres
to the problems of deepest concern to the the Quinta das Pratas and offers several and everyday physical expressions,
local population, namely the pollution itineraries for visitors to discover the combining the essentially didactic
and silting of the Arade River and the dwellings and scenery typical of Ribatejo, with the socially and economically pro-
destruction and abandonment of the along with past and present activities in fitable.
nautical and industrial heritage. This is the region and local resources. The
an integral part of the traditional setting museum will place at the disposal of local The Mértola Museum consists of vari-
and represents for the community a inhabitants and visitors alike the means ous sections scattered throughout the
source of economic wealth conducive to of discovering a rural culture that has city, which are ‘the result of a cultural
the development of industrial activities, maintained its vital character in this area survey and active involvement in the
fiShing, working of the salt marshes and where, since the birth of the Portuguese social life of the region’. The Museum of
river tourism. nation, wine-growing has been the Sacred Art, established in the old church

32
MUSEUD O BENAVENTE ,. Agricultural
machinery and tools in the central unit.
2 16 António Nabais

of the Misericórdia and its sacristy, where metres from Barrancos, the municipality knowledge of various activities such as
a large number of iconographic materials has given its support to an initiative so far pottery, painting, basketwork, carpen-
and religious objects are on display, also unique in Portugal, in the form of a pro- try, weaving and the manufacture of rope
restores and treats exhibits; the ject for the restoration of buildings using and stockings (two traditional local ac-
Blacksmith’s Shop, located in the old traditional building techniques and local tivities). Plans are being made to esta-
quarter of the city, fits perfectly into the manpower. This operation is rescuing blish several units, which again is
museological itinerary and bears witness traditional techniques from oblivion evidence of local interest in the life of the
to a craft that played an important role in while at the same time creating new jobs. museum, for example a water-mill, a
the life of the community; the Historical In the words of Dr Cláudio Torres, ‘The windmill, a farrier’s and a saddler’s
Archives, meanwhile, have been col- aim of our project, over and above our shop (traditional trades that are still
lected together and catalogued so that concern to find buried vestiges and flourishing), the Pancas saltworks (a joint
they meet the needs of research. evidence of a time lost to memory, is to project with the municipality of
Research has been given special pro- discover the still-living sources of oral Alcochete), river boats and fishing.
minence by the Mértola Museum, culture and to learn and rehabilitate the These local museums, whether or not
especially archaeological research. This manual skills of craftsmen and their time- they are called ecomuseums, are evidence
has led the way to the establishment of tested techniques. ’ of a new, active approach to museology in
new units: a centre on the art and history The year 1980 saw the opening in Portugal, closely bound up with the life
of the Islamic period, which will be Benavente of the Dr António Cabral Fer- of the people. Other examples that could
housed in a handsome seventeenth- reira Lourenço Museum, a donation by be cited are the Fermentões Museum, in
century building currently being Joaquim Parracho and gifts from the ge- the north, the Escalhão Museum, in the
restored; a Roman history unit (site neral public. The extremely varied collec- Guarda district, the Carregueiros Mu-
museum) in the basement of the Town tions convey a general picture of the seum, in the central part of the country,
Hall, which has been restored so as to set economic, cultural and social life of the the Estremoz Museum, the Municipal
off the pavements and foundations of a inhabitants of the municipality of Museum of Vouzela, the Museum of
fourth-century urban building; a palaeo- Benavente and include craftworkers’ Penich and many other grass-roots in-
Christian unit (site museum) among the tools and handiwork, agricultural im- itiatives that have taken shape in recent
ruins of a basilica dating from the fifth, plements, domestic articles, regional years throughout the country.
sixth and seventh centuries, considered to costumes and embroidery, a small num- The Second International Workshop
be the most important palaeo-Christian ber of local archaeological finds, old on ‘New Directions in Museology’, cen-
epigraphic centre in the country; and the photographs and postcards, newspapers, tred on local museums, to be held in
castle, an imposing fourteenth-century journals and books. Portugal in 1985, will thus tie in with a
architectural structure, where a collection The Benavente Museum’s activities in- museological movement that displays a
of stone sculptures at present scattered clude an inventory programme, the orga- variety of innovative features, deserving
throughout the city will be exhibited in nization of temporary exhibitions and of study and reflection, and which will
the open air. The Craft Centre will house school visits, archaeological prospecting certainly make a highly significant con-
the growing ethnographic collection and and the location of sites, particularly tribution to the life of the international
a workshop training centre for the from the Roman period. Two workshops community.
manufacture and sale of woollen are currently being prepared and equip-
blankets, which are still produced in the ped. Under the supervision of instruc- [ Translatedfrom Portzlguese]
region. tors, they will enable young people to im-
In the old city of Noudar, five kilo- prove their theoretical and practical
217

33
Understanding the rat was of primary
concern t o the visitors who viewed The Rat:
Mait’s Invited Afliction exhibition at the
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum.

34
John R. Kinard addressing Anacostia’s
historical society. The Anna J. Cooper: A
Voice From the Soplth exhibition is seen in
the background. Anna J. Cooper was a
former American slave, who earned a Ph.D.
degree from the Sorbonne.

I had a vision of.. . a branch museum and institutions- including museums. John R. Kinard
in a small neighborhood that needed Lewis Mumford, the American social
the infusion of fomn, of design, or critic, philosopher and historian, whose Born in Washington, D.C., 1936. Graduated from
variedcolorpatterns andshapes, to in- many books explored the relations be- Livingstone College and Hood Theological
spire its young.. . W e have miles to go tween modern man and his environment, Seminary (Salisbury, North Carolina) in 1960 and
1963 respectively. Through ‘Operation Crossroads
andlittle enough time. The roadisstil¿ wrote in The Culture of Cities: ‘Layer Africa’ in 1962 he began to establish close ties with
rough and the future uncdear, but ... upon layer, past times preserve them- African governmentaland private agencies. Widely
we have made a start.’ selves in the city until life itself is finally travelled on the African continent, in Europe and
threatened with suffocation; then, in the Caribbean, he has been a frequent lecturer and
visitor to many national and international
When four young, black college students sheer defense, modern man invents the museums. A community activist, he has been direc-
staged a sit-in at a Woolworth lunch museum’. No doubt Mumford felt that tor since 1967 of the Anacostia Neighborhood
counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, museums were buildings with places for Museum.
on 1 February 1960, this now historical the entombment of the relics of the dead
event signalled the beginning of change above ground, and with no vital role to
in the strategy and momentum of the civil play in the present or future life of the
rights struggle in the United States. Old communities in which they were or might
ways and the older leadership were become located. But according to Harris
challenged by new, younger voices- (1978), the success of museums as de-
voices that heard and marched to a dif- fined by their founders ‘depended upon
ferent drummer. No longer would their effectiveness in reaching a large lay
revered American institutions conduct audience, capturing its attention, in-
business as usual. While some violently creasing its knowledge, and shaping its
resisted the much needed and sought sense of possibility’. And he concludes
after changes, masses of people became that museums do have the ability ‘to in-
involved with greater force than at any fluence a heterogeneous clientele that
time since the Great Depression of the
1930s, when people effectively brought 1. S. Dillon Ripley to John R. Kinard, 22 May
about changes in the nation’s policies 1972.
218 lohn R. Kinard

36
Young visitors to the BhcA Women:
Achievements Against the Odds exhibition
try out their own reading skills.

35
Involvement in the agricultural cycle: boys has few aesthetic assumptions or pre- Elements in the manzyesto
in one of the Anacostia Neighborhood tensions’.
,Museum’s science projects harvest crops in a
garden adjacent to the museum.
At an earlier time museums were Reaching beyond the conventional con-
charged with paying too little attention cept of a storage place and research cen-
to the social and cultural needs of the tre, the museum of the 1960s became an t

general public. Low (1942) argued institution with unlimited chances for
against museums giving services only to a growth and responsibility- opportuni-
privileged audience and vigorously ad- ties that go beyond collecting, studying,
vocated the development of popular conserving and exhibiting its treasures.
education in addition to the traditional For in the 1960s, the American museum
museum functions of acquisition, preser- profession, with some prodding from
vation and scholarlystudy. Thought to be their non-traditional museum counter-
a radical, Low felt that popular education parts, became concerned with the idea of
should be extended to the educated mid- museums as instruments for social
dle class. While today that does not seem change. The Anacostia Neighborhood I

to be a revolutionary idea, Low was in- Museum has been described by Getlein
fluenced by the visionary John Cotton and Lewis (1980) as ‘the most enduring
Dana (1856- 1929),who, at the turn of the and in some ways the revolutionary result ’
century, made the Newark (New Jersey) of that professional preoccupation’.
Public Library famous by extending its Ideas are ever changing. So the idea of
services to everyone and making the the museum as a vehicle for public service
Newark Museum a source of community evolves constantly in the search for new
pride. But not even Low could have fore- avenues and opportunities. In 1969, a
seen the dramatic and now historical three-day conference on the role of the
events that would take place in the 1960s, museum in the community was held at
that would radically change his concept MUSE, the Bedford Lincoln Neighbor-
of the museum as a social instrument. For hood Museum in Brooklyn, New York.
who could have predicted the Mont- Representatives from the more estab-
gomery (Alabama) Bus Boycott, the lished and renowned museums met with
March on Selma (Alabama), the directors and staff of neighbourhood
assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, museums and arts centres from around
the influx of blacks and Latinos to urban the country to engage in meaningful
centres, the physical and spiritual dialogue. Among the first of its kind, this
decadence of the inner cities, the rapid conference explored the problem of the
growth of white suburban communities, lack of contact between museums and the
the rise of revolutionary student activity communities around them, for after
against the Vier Nam war on American whites had fled from downtown
college campuses, and a growing counter- neighbourhoods following the civil
culture movement against the establish- disorders of 1968, many museums found
ment, affecting all cultural institutions, themselves surrounded by divergent
including museums. groups and discordant sounds. Apart
The neighbourhood museum r7s a catalyst for social' change 219
220 John R. Kinard

from the scheduled agenda, the prob- MUSE, wrote in the proceedings of the All eyes suddenly focused on a new ex-
lems of cultural identity, the crisis of the 1969 Brooklyn Seminar: perimental branch of the Smithsonian
cities, and the need of the United States Institution and on Anacostia-a low-
to reassess and reassert its priorities It is clear that what is needed before income community of 1OO,OOO residents
were among the concerns that the in- any inner-city museum can be suc- nestled in the hills and dales of the far
vited conferees addressed. Many of us cessful is an entirely new way of think- south-east corner of Washington. On 15
were trying to design and develop ing about museums and the public September 1967, a converted cinema
neighbourhood museums and cultural they serve. For the role of these new reopened its doors to the community as
centres to satisfy the broader needs of our neighborhood institutions will fall in- the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum.
culturally impoverished communities. to place only when there is a. new Illuminated by floodlights (an evening
While I do not deny the value or definition of the museum and its func- opening ceremony made it possible for a
necessity of collecting and exhibiting tions in our society. But that new crowd of 4,000 to attend), a festival-like
evidences of our material culture, I stand definition cannot be imposed on atmosphere permeated the air as a
with those who also believe that either the museum administration or neighbourhood drum and bugle corps
museums must be willing to become the community before fgndumentul performed to the delight of the audience
instigators of new cultural and social social problems have been understood and a jazz band played in a once vacant
trends. The museum must serve its total andgrappled with (italics added). lot adjacent to the museum building,
community. Just as archaeology conterns now transformed into a small garden. On
itself with the evidence of the past, so Over the din of sometime harsh and the podium, Smithsonian and city of-
must the museum concern itself with angry voices, difficult questions were ficials joined neighbourhood leaders,
artefacts, documents and oral history, asked and bothersome issues were raised, clergymen, a police captain and young
which provide a better understanding of but the boat was moving. Now responsi- people, who in immeasurable ways had
the present and can foster a stronger sense ble museum professionals were being helped to make this day possible. In less
of community history and identity. forced to view their institutions through than a year this museum, produced with
Together, archaeological research and the other side of the looking-glass, and, the technical skills of the Smithsonian
museum programmes can be valuable in as Grove (1968) has noted, to ‘re- and the combined efforts of the com-
the effort to revitalize urban communi- examine some of their cherished clichés munity, was being heralded as a national
ties and to encourage the restoration and to chart new courses’. It was at just role model. Time magazine (of 2 1 June
of a sense of place among their residents. such a conference in Aspen, Colorado 1968) described it as ‘the most successful
The destiny of the museum is the (1966), that the then Secretary of in this field’ of ‘opening eyes in the
destiny of the community; their relation- the Smithsonian Institution, S. Dillon ghetto’.
ship is both symbiotic and catalytic. As it Ripley, began to consider ways that the Neither time nor space permits me to
reaches out to the community, the Smithsonian might ‘establish and give a detailed account of our first, in-
museum is enlivened and explores new operate an experimental Neighborhood novative programmes and frequently
ways and means of exhibiting the local Museum in ... a low-income neighbor- changing exhibits. One of these par-
heritage and of promoting local issues, hood in Washington, D.C.’. ticularly attracted and held the public’s
thus serving as a catalyst for change. attention. Our first experiment with an
Mine, of course, is a maximalist view. The genesis of a neighbourhood ecological problem in an urban setting,
There are still museum professionals who museum The Rut: Man’s InvitedAflìction, an ex-
feel that big cities with their present hibition mounted in 1969, evoked wide-
surplus of social and economic problems The plan to develop a neighbourhood spread interest and sometimes controver-
are beyond the realm of their interest or museum was widely publicized, reflect- sial comment. But for many visitors and
responsibility. Fearing that involvement ing the Smithsonian’s conviction that observers alike this exhibit of live rats in
in urban problems will somehow lead to museums generally have failed to reach a safe and controlled environment was
a reduction of their affluent patronage the audience that Dr Ripley has described the cornerstone of our success. It not only
and aesthetic standards, without helping as ‘the huge untapped public that has raised our level of awareness about a
to solve a single urban problem, many never entered a museum nor enjoyed any social and environmental problem that
museum directors have simply tried to of the educational and aesthetic values afflicted many of our neighbours, but
keep the problems at bay, while hoping that museums reflect’. According to also offered valuable information and a
that others will quickly solve them. But as Marsh (1968), the community of solution to the problem of rodent con-
Grove (1968) has so wisely stated: Anacostia was chosen as the site for the trol. And according to Getlein and Lewis
country’s first experimental neighbour- (1980), the Anacostia Museum ‘made its
Museum men too rarely encourage dis- hood museum because of the enthusiastic devastating impact on Washington con-
sent or arrange occasions for the open interest of the Greater Anacostia Peoples, sciousness with The Rut.. . not a political
exchange of views about bothersome Inc. (GAP), an aggressive broad-based biography but a scientific, sociological,
issues. They say ‘don’t rock the boat’, community group that offered an ex- medical guide to a permanent feature of
forgetting that one of the character- cellent chance for the Smithsonian to life in Anacostia’. They concluded by
istics of a moving boat is that it rocks reach beyond its Mall facilities to an aspir- noting that
occasionally (italics added). ing inner-city neighbourhood and in
partnership create a small regional or ter- Since then, exhibitions have explored
Emily Dennis Harvey (1969), acting ritorial museum similar to those decen- the community’s history, African
director of The Brooklyn Children’s tralized cultural facilities known as themes, the social situations of blacks
Museum in 1967-69, who conceived of ecomuseums in Canada and France. and particularly woman.. .There is no
The neighbourhood museum as a catar‘yst for social change 221

permanent collection, but the special knowledge upon which to build a better
exhibitions are always stimulating, society today, but are shown relics of the
even when they focus on appalling past that, lacking a meaningful inter-
reality.2 pretation, seem not to connect with their
heritage, their more pressing concerns of
As Ripley (1969) observed, it was late the moment or their hopes and dreams of
in their history before museums finally the future.
became accessible to the mass of the In this regard you frequently hear some
population, and before people were con- of our museum officials say, ‘Well, that
sidered civilized enough to be able to ap- is social work or church work and
preciate the cultural offerings of mu- therefore not the responsibility of a
seums. It is interesting to note the role of museum’. Are they correct? When one
the church museums in paving the way considers that museums, like other great
for the use of museums by the general institutions that educate the public, are
public, when they opened up their also influenced by external stimuli and
treasure houses to the community on changes in society, then they have both
special feast days, holy days and other the responsibility and the opportunity to
noted events. I feel certain, however, that enhance the way that we perceive BIBLIOGRAPHY
former museum administrators must ourselves, the manner in which we in-
ALEXANDER, Edward P. 1979. Museumsin Motion.
have made this somewhat exclusive ad- teract socially and culturally.They can in- Nashville, American Association for State and
missions policy in the spirit of exaequo e t spire and bring into focus our dreams and Local History.
bozo (according to what is fair and good). hopes for a better future. &RICAN ASSOCIATIONOF MUSEUMS.1972.
The age of democratic thought and We are on the threshold of a new cen- Museums: Their New Audence. Washington,
egalitarianism would follow much later. tury, a century that will demand vigorous D.C., American Association of Museums.
FELLOWS, Balcha G. (ed.) n.d. The Making of a
and decisive action. If museums are to Museum. Washington, D.C., Anacostia
InvoZvement survive and address new cultural values, Neighborhood Museum. 29 pp.
then the involvement of people is need- GETLEIN,Frank; ~ W S , JO Ann, 1980. The
Now far removed from the temple of the ed. For, as Ripley (1969) has stated, ‘The Washington D. C. Art Review- The Art Er-
pl’orer’s Guide to Washington. New York, The
Muses, where the nine sister goddesses, urban problem is upon us and beats on Vanguard Press.
the daughters of Mnemosyne (Memory), our ears or flashes out of the newsprint, or GROVE,Richard, 1968. Problems in Museum
leisurely presided over song, poetry, the snarls at us from shattered shopfronts Education. In: Eric Larrabee, (ed.), Museums
arts and the sciences, today’s museums every day’. The choice is ours to make. and Educariotz. Washington, D.C., Smithso-
have reached a crucial point in their Either we can recoil from the challenge nian Institution Press. 253 pp.
HARRIS,Neil. 1978. Museums, Merchandising, and
development. The institution will not and retreat into our prestigious ivory Popular Taste ...In: Ian M. G. Quimby, (ed.),
change, however, as long as it is not in- towers, or be willing to take hold of the Matenal’ CuZture and the Study of Amerìcan
timately involved with people. Some- moment and take the bold and creative Life. New York, W. W. Norton & Company,
times I think that museum personnel see steps needed to meet our public on their Inc.
HARVEY, Emily Dennis. 1969. In: Proceedings of
the public as a necessary encumbrance. own terms, in their own neighbourhoods the 1969 Brooklyn Seminar, A Museumfor the
They must come to see us; we never need (or territorial regions), and offer them the PeogZe. New York, Bedford Lincoln Neighbor-
to reach out to them. They are like coun- full range of learning opportunities that hood Museum.
try cousins who make an annual pil- are made possible through a wise use of LOW, Theodore L. 1942. The Museum as a Socia[
our energies and fiscal resources. Instmment. New York, Metropolitan Museum
grimage to visit us, their city relatives,
of Art. 71 pp.
who tolerate their presence, dispas- I believe that research into contem- MARSH,Caryl. 1968. A Neighborhood Museum
sionately listen to their stories and ex- porary issues, when put into an historical That Works. Museum News, October.
periences, and are glad when they depart perspective, can give people a better (Reprint.)
and leave us to our more important work. understanding of the significance of their RIPUY, Sidney Dillon. 1969. The Sacred Grove,
Essays on Museums. New York, Simon &
Even when some of us do welcome the own lives, serve as guidance for the future Schuster. 159 pp., postlude, notes.
public with open arms, we do not interact and provide information that they can S M ~ S O N I A NINSTITUTION.1966. A Proposal to
enough with them. We do not cultivate readily understand and use. Establish an Experimental Neighborhood
a sense of mutual respect, a mutual shar- Frequently we know more about our Museum. 7 pp. (No publishing data.)
ing of ideas, for, believing their ideas to existence as organic beings then we know SMITHSONIANINSTITUTION. 1972. Anacostia
Neighborhood Museum Sth Anniversary.
be pedestrian and unimaginative, we about who we are and how we fit into our Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution
shun interaction and lose the opportunity social milieu. Far too many people, who Press. 54 pp.
for a rewarding cultural exchange. have been economically and politically STEVENSON, Sheila. 1982. The Territory as
Much of the spiritual suffering of our victimized and robbed of cultural integri- Museum: New Museum Directions in Quebec.
Curator (New York City), Vol. 25, No. 1, pp.
contemporaries can be healed through ty, see the world in microcosm. Thus we 5-16.
interpersonal relationships. People have do not see our true self-worth and con-
a driving desire to know more about nection to a much larger world. Museums
themselves, their history, and their en- can provide not only scientific an-
vironment, as well as of others who in- thropological information, but, through
habit distant lands and whose cultures
2. See John R. Kinard’s article on the
and life-styles are so very different from Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in Museum,
their own. They hunger and thirst for Vol. XXIV, NO. 2, 1972, pp. 102-9.
222 .John R. K i n d

ethnolinguistics, can help us to see the closer to home, to some rundown parts of confound us, when the face of America
relations between language and culture. the cities where urban problems have is being smothered by heaps and rib-
Ethnologists can provide valuable in- walled in the people. bons of cement, and a pall of smoke
sights concerning the life-styles of dif- Involvement is most needed if hangs over it all, must art (and history)
ferent peoples -how they are trained to museums of the future are to be valid. consist of enigmatic nothingness or
live in their society, how they choose their They must be of use, they must com- ‘thingness’? (Ripley, 1969).
mates, marry, make a living, and municate with the people who have the
organize their relations with their fellow greatest need for them. A grain of seed Ecomuseums unswer some of the
men. Such knowledge will help us to may be dropped into fertile soil to sprout questions
understand better the universality of the another day, sending a youth who is in-
world and people’s connection to it. terested in something off to a library or The answer to Ripley’s question may be
Many museum administrators place a college. As Ripley (1969) observes, found in the new ecomuseum idea of the
very high premium on their professional ‘branch museums near schools in poverty late 1970s and the 1980s.
and academic training, and pride areas could do much to increase those In 1979 Pierre Mayrand, director of the
themselves on competently performing quotients of the standard of living not yet Haute-BeauceMuseum and Regional In-
their work; still, they seem to lack a sense contemplated by the (urban) planners’. terpretation Centre, introduced the con-
of purpose. It is the not ‘knowing why’ Ripley also raised a question in his cept but not the name to the residents of
(the motivating influences) that can essays that is closely connected to the his community, Haute-Beauce, a remote
make all the diference. Perhaps the miss- point that I wish to make here. rural Appalachian plateau in Canada. He
ing element is the desire to take spoke to the people about the possibility
knowledge to those who need it most: the In a time of crisis, when the urban poor of their developing a museum and inter-
village in the African hinterland, or, even and the urban failures in management pretation centre that would also offer

The prehistory of the Anacostia community is known from col-


lections in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of
Natural History. Artefacts from the nineteenth century and oc-
casional research in the twentieth century (in the 1930s and
later) reveal that the Nacochtanke-the indigenous Indian
population -sparsely inhabited the region in the seventeenth
century. These people were hunters and gatherers, moving from
camp site to camp site with the changing seasons. Known as a
trading village (an Indian word, Anaqua.rh(a)-tan(i)k, means a
town of traders), its men also fished in the bountiful Anacostia
River (the eastern branch of the majestic Potomac), and later
settled into permanent villages along the floodplains. The
English adventurerJohn Smith visited it in June 1608 and later
documented the presence of these sedentary, semi-agricultural
people in The General Historie of Virginia, New Englandand
the Summer Isles (1624). The Anacostia Story: 1608-1930
(Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977)researched and written by
the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum’s historian, Louise
37 Daniel Hutchinson, goes on to describe how the Nacochtanke
Involving the elderly: senior citizens enjoy a were gradually driven off their land. Eighteenth- and early nine-
poetry reading. teenth-century Anacostia became an area of plantations, farms,
forests and hamlets populated by English gentry, small farmers,
German sharecroppers, African slaves and a developing com-
munity of free blacks. After the Civil War, enterprising blacks
and whites developed Anacostia into an important community.
Acknowledging the history of these often forgotten people and
connecting the past with the present is but one example of the
kind of creative and collaborative venture in which developing
institutions like the Anacostia Museum and the more established
and venerable institutions can engage. Indeed Hutchinson’s
book has been cited by the National Trust for Historic Preserva-
tion as the major historical publication on the area.
The neighbourhood museum as a catalyst for socia[ change 223

them cultural services. For in this remote In the same article she defined the contemporary and very complex society.
and virtually isolated area there were ecomuseum as a ‘territorymuseum’. She A museum can be a window that opens
for the most part no cultural facilities. went on to point out that the territory or on the world. And while it cannot solve
To make the idea work the people region itself ‘replaces the traditional many immediate world problems, as an
themselves, through their collective building; the collective heritage is the institution it can reach just beyond its
memories, would have to establish the collection; the population is the public’ walls and begin to work to improve the
importance of their past: their identity (Stevenson, 1982). quality of life for the people within its
and heritage. Then, through their Advocates of the ecomuseum idea pro- reach, especially those in urban areas.
museum, they could concentrate on the pose to expand even further the par- Uncertain of our destiny, we must come
present and the future. In an effort to ticipatory process begun some twenty together in harmony and in friendship to
- demystify museums, Mayrand encourag- years ago with the first discussions about develop blueprints for the future that will
ed the residents to define collectively the the wisdom of breathing life into articulate obtainable goals. For, as Marsh
value of their history. the community/neighbourhood museum (1968) has written, ‘if we are to preserve
In October 1979, Mayrand presented concept. And just as new visions in the our hzlman heritage, we had better make
the idea of the ecomuseum in a docu- 1960s gave rise to the neighbourhood it easier for all people to perceive that
ment entitled B u d a h g Our Mzlseum museum movement, in the 1980s the they are human beings, related to all
Together, in which he identified the ecomuseum is an idea for a social and ter- other human beings’. And in so doing
basic principles of his concept: conserva- ritorial integration of the museum. Of- ‘we are seeking to restore the museum to
tion, co-operation and representation. fering new and vital challenges for to- its proper role, as a place to stretch the
The next year, in a former parish rectory, day’s museums as well as those of the mind and refresh the spirit, accessible to
he opened the Haute-Beauce Museum. future, this idea of regional or territorial all’. No longer can we deny the heritage
The five major functions of this museum museums devoted to all aspects (natural, and humanity of the many in our
can be adopted by other museums that historical and artistic) of a region or culturally diverse communities who often
wish to encourage service for and district need not disquiet us, nor should come to our institutions only to leave them
dialogue with the communities they it be seen as a whip to lash out at the more feeling once again empty and alien. As
serve. They are: to acquire and present traditional museum. Rather, if given a expressed by my colleague Zora Martin-
objects that recall local traditions, in- chance to develop and succeed, it can Felton, their plaintive voices tell us
dustries and conditions; to use modern enliven our creative spirit and, perhaps,
museum techniques to teach visitors be forged into an important link in the I have looked about and have seen
about the region and the people (e.g. chain of ideas that will assure the con- no one who looks like me.
temporary or travelling exhibits, tinuity of culture and the permanent I have listened and not heard my name
strategically placed information booths creation of new cultural habits. called.
or kiosks offering a succession of chang- Further, as I understand it, the
ing information and community scenes); ecomuseum is a concept that seeks to in- Twenty-five years ago no one would have
to mount exhibitions designed to clude and embrace all museums. It is one suggested this role for a museum. But
heighten the sense of self-worth and that, if implemented, has the potential museums have grown and matured in
dignity of the entire population and also for nurturing beneficial collaborative and such a way that they can now see
help to promote the historical, social and co-operative enterprises. For if we have themselves as a part of the total landscape
economic life of the region; to develop the desire and determination to use of urban and rural communities. More
museum-oriented school programmes; our neighbourhoods and communities sensitive and responsive to the needs of
and to provide meeting space for pro- creatively as learning laboratories and an open and pluralistic society in which
grammes and events that the community employ the best talents available, we can members of diverse ethnic, racial,
wants and needs, that give life to the design and engage in joint projects that religious or social groups maintain an
museum, or that contribute to the defini- will pioneer new research into modern- autonomous participation in the devel-
tion and dissemination of the social, day issues. Using the skills and tech- opment of their traditional culture, let
cultural and economic realities of the niques similar to those of field ar- the dialogue between museum and their
region. Sheila Stevenson, an ecomuseum chaeologists, who are excited by the communities continue. Let the museum,
enthusiast from the Nova Scotia discovery of material evidence of past as a catalyst for social change, take its
Museum, Halifax, found that ‘the most civilizations,we can begin to explore new deserved place in the annals of human
highly valued element of this sort of ways of using our academic training and history as one of the most enlightened in-
museum is the interaction of people’. life experiences to learn more about our stitutions conceived by the mind of man.
224

Milagro Gomez de Blavia To discuss the Barquisimeto Museum as a This spirit of ‘invent or drift’, sup-
successful example of the new options in plemented by assessment and correction,
Born in 1946 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Degree regional museology requires us to stand has been a constant feature in designing
in law, ‘Andrés Bello’ Catholic University, Caracas, back from its daily activities, at this early the museum, the. sole but immense
1967. Joined the staff of the Foundation for the
Development of the West Central Region
stage of its existence, in order to label or restriction being to combine effectively
(FUDECO) and later the Central Office for Plan- assess it and try to understand and, what the basic characteristics of any museum
ning and Coordination (CORDIPLAN).Member of is even more difficult, to explain the with our particular requirements.
the team responsible for the organization and reasons for its success.
establishment of the Lara Foundation for Culture The presumptuous use of the term
and of the Regional Board for the Protection and Responding to a real situation
Preservation of the National Historical and Artistic
‘successful’is justifiable once it is realized
Heritage since 1981. Appointed director of the Bar- how difficult and unusual it is in a short There is one striking feature in the entire
quisimeto Museum in 1982. Co-ordinator of time to make a community feel the need process of creating, organizing and
Museums for the Venezuelan Government until for and secure easy access to a museum, developing the activities of the museum:
1984 and consultant to various institutions.
and assign to the latter a leading role in its close links with the needs, potential
that community’s endeavours. Two years and options of a particular community, a
of work have produced a solid institution, particular area, with a specific popula-
focused on the regional heritage, which is tion, namely Barquisimeto and its zone
both a centre of intense cultural activity of influence.2
and a reflection of the community’s
problems.
The secret of our success was to design
and establish the institution for a specific 1. Simón Rodriguez, the tutor of Simón
reality, without applying models con- Bolívar, the Liberator, pointed out that the
choice facing Latin America in its endeavour to
ceived and set up for other situations. find its identity and flourish was to ‘invent or
The alternative of ‘inventing or drifting’ drift’. This maxim embodies the spirit which
guides the management of the Barquisimeto
was adopted instead, with its attendant Museum.
38 risks.’ With the guidance of this maxim, 2. Barquisimeto is here viewed not as an
MUSEO DE B R O U S I M E T O . Panoramic isolated city within fucd boundaries, but as a
view of the magni&ent early twentieth- a type of museum was planned which
centre generating and receiving activities that are
century building, which is within the would generate its own theory, its own closely linked with neighbouring zones which it
historical city limits. methods and its own techniques. influences and from which it cannot be isolated.

39
Barquisimeto Museum sculpture collection.
The Barquisimeto Museum: invent or dnJ? 225

From the beginning, it was noted that: That marked the beginning of a period
of intense reflection, with the participa-
Barquisimeto and the whole west cen- tion of specialists as well as represen-
tral region is the seat of a specific tatives of the community and the city
culture with particular characteristics authorities, aimed at planning the
and features that should be preserved museum's profile on the basis of current
within a set of traits and expressions museological theory. We aimed at
which give it permanent identity; in creatinga museum which would be open,
order to achieve an adequate reflection participatory, essentially educational and
of our image as a people it is essential living, based on the principles applied by
to create a suitable institution incor- both the ecomuseum and the 'integral
porating the various aspects of our museum'. Thus we proposed a museum
culture.3 which would:
provide the community which had
The third largest city in Venezuela, with created it with a means of recognizing,
a population near one million, Bar- finding and relating to itself through
quisimeto is the centre of a distinctive local, national and universal culture;
culture, including a history extending thoroughly study the cultural elements
from the pre-Colombian period to the constituting our existence and roots,
present. It has gone through violent starting from the present so as to
change as it has expanded from a 'provin- reconstruct the past and make projec-
cial' society to a full-blown city, taking on tions into the future, enriching itself
urban characteristics while facing the with material taken from history and
risks and problems which accompany daily life-not only physical and
'progress' .4 A place had to be found for spiritual vestiges of the past but also 40
Robes of the Virgin, patroness of the city,
tradition in order to keep the collective personal experiences, oral traditions, in The Visitation, the Blessed virgin in
memory from being dispersed and eras- music, dance, popular art and all the Barquisimeto exhibition. Santa Rosa Parish
ed. It was necessary to encourage con- creative manifestations of the present; Collection.
vergence in common aims which would endeavour to preserve and disseminate
promote the integration of the people. the cultural heritage of the Lara region
The government authorities took the and actively satisfy the informational
first step by issuing the decree and recreational needs of the people of
establishingthe museum. The municipal Barquisimeto;
authorities of Barquisimeto participated
in the initiative, designating for it a 3 . From the decree establishing the West
building constructed in 1917 as a hospital Central Regional Museum, Barquisimeto,
with donations from the community. Venezuela, 1977.
4. See Naim Piñango, Caso Venezuela: Uaa
This now provides the museum with a ilusiópz de ~ ~ m o z &
Caracas,
, Ediciones Cendes,
beautiful architectural setting. 1984.

41
Popular festivals also have a place in the
museum.
226 Milagro Gomez de BLavia

be a protagonist in the cultural develop- Friends of the Museum association and


ment process of the country and pro- various representatives of the communi-
mote the cultural dimension of overall ty. It was given massive distribution by a
development ; local daily newspaper in the form of a
provide a close linkage between the natu- supplement containing the definition,
ral fields and produce a comprehensive justification and main lines of the pro-
synthesis of the community's socio- ject. This proposal was approved in all
cultural matrix; respects by the project authorities and
lastly, retain the fundamental features of forms the basis for the museum's ac-
the 'museum' as an institution but tivities.
vary the content of its activities in ac- The results reflect the importance of
cordance with the needs of the com- the project for the museum/community
munity: identification, comparison, relationship, characterized as it is by the
integration, enhancement, knowledge emphasis, reflection and recording of ex-
and generation of awareness. perience that enrich and guide its pro-
All these considerations and postulates gress. It is not closed and finalized but
were brought together in a proposal rather a project for participation and
42 prepared by a pluridisciplinary team and constant dialogue, not only in keeping
Folk art in the museum's displays. submitted to the city authorities, the with the most up-to-date museological
The Barquisimeto Afmeum: inve?iitt or drift 227

concepts but also attuned to the social limited, there were problems connected have been kept aware of the problems af-
and historical situation of an open, living with the building’s change in use and, fecting the project, not only as regards its
and participating city. more particularly, the community’s philosophy but also in the details of day-
growing expectations. The extensive to-day operation. This has resulted in the
Current state of the initial idea publicity surrounding the building had establishment of a solid team with an ef-
in fact confused the community, which fective working style.
Another set of tasks involving dif- had the impression that the museum was The Programming Board has been the
ficulties, obstacles and limitations had to already in existence. It was therefore means used to associate the staff with the
be faced: how to put into practice those necessary to carry out two concomitant in- museum’s activities, channelling the
obviously complex specifications? The formation activities: a preparatory projec- members of the various discrete units and
future of the institution would depend to tion and promotion programme ‘What is relating them to the overall structure,
a great extent on whether it was managed a museum?’; and explain the museum and integrating the administrative and
in a technically competent and respon- project by describingthe underlying theo- political lines of emphasis. It fosters par-
sible way. ry and the various technical requirements. ticipation and promotes co-ordination
A number of difficulties confronted As a first step in approaching the prob- and evaluation at all levels. As a result,
the project: museum organization was lem of launching the museum, the relations are direct and expeditious,
not being planned in parallel with the background to the project was summed bottlenecks and conflicts are readily
restoration of the building, basic collec- up and a homogeneous series of proposals identified, and effective solutions to
tions were lacking, resources were presented. These were meant to interpret them worked out.
the interests of the community on the Obtaining economic resources also re-
basis of knowledge of the environment quired ingenuity in order to carry out the
and analysis of the various views express- bold programmes adopted and to acquire
ed by the specialists previously con- the necessary facilities. In fact, the Bar-
sulted.5The museum also had to be given quisimeto Museum was founded at a
an appropriate organizational structure time of economic recession in Venezuela,
for the execution of a dynamic pro- and its budget covers no more than the
gramme for the community. All this was bare necessities. Hence its development
laid down in what Georges Henri Rivière must entail the finding of additional
called a ‘progressive opening plan’, in resources, and this was accepted as a nor-
three parts: administration, space use mal activity by the management of the
and programmes, with a preparatory museum. Its efforts were concentrated
stage to be completed in two years and an primarily on acquiring funds from
initial management stage. private business by sensitizing a sector
Administratively,the first need was to which in our society has no tradition of
appoint a governing body -a committee financing culture. This meant that clear,
consisting of representatives of the in- attractive projects had to be presented
stitutions participating in the project, and administrative control machinery
supported by a technical secretariatwhich established.
manages the museum. It was considered Another procedure used was the con-
necessary to involve advisers and clusion of inter-institutional agreements,
specialists in the work of management as a means of pooling efforts and funds
and to have the support of the commu- from various sources; such agreements
nity on committees assigned to specific were the result of reliability in meeting
tasks such as financing and acquisitions, commitments. The support of the
community promotion and voluntary Friends of the Barquisimeto Museum has
work. As a result, a solid support group been decisive in this. For its annual pro-
was established in a short time. This gave gramme, the museum plans and im-
rise to the creation of a Friends of the plements a programme and budget
Museum association which has done a covering the resources allocated to it by
great deal for the institution. the competent institutions and the addi-
Since it was difficult to hire suitable tional resources it obtains through a
staff, due to the lack of adequately special fund-raising plan.
qualified people, our needs were satisfied As to programming, at this prepara-
through a combination of contracts with tory stage, general lines have been laid
specialists and the selection of other peo- down establishing annual operational
ple who knew the community, were will- stages within a medium- and long-term
ing to serve and could be expected to planning context.
develop their own skills further to the In drawing up policies, the standards
point of becoming professionals in that
particular domain. For this purpose, an
advanced training plan, to which all S. Milagro Gomez de Blavia and Martin
Verlini, Pmpuesta para la conceptualización,
members of the team have access, was set programación y funcionamiento de un museo:
up and is currently operational. They Caso Afuseo de Barquirimeto, Paris, 1982.
i

1
228 MiLagr0 Gomez de Blavia

laid down by international bodies- Now, two years after these activities
Unesco, through its agreements and commenced, the Barquisimeto Museum
recommendations to Member States, has achieved national as well as regional
ICOM, ICCROM and ICOMOS-were recognition. This is due to its basic mis-
43 taken into consideration as well as na- sion of devoting attention to the regional
Tocuyano Period funerary urn, 200 B . C. ,
from ‘La Salle’ archaeological collection. tional standards adapting them to our heritage while also disseminating aware-
Camay Cemetery. specific conditions so that they could be ness of the national and universal heri-
given effect in clear, precise and feasible tage, with the result that it has been able
form. to organize exhibitionsand events reflect-
The progressive opening plan began by ing the identity of Lara in its various
giving priority to temporary exhibitions aspects, alongside significant displays of
arranged through inter-institutional co- universal culture.
operation. For the collections, a plan was To date there have been two national
instituted for the preparation of inven- art exhibitions, a sculpture exhibition
tories and records and for designing the and one on ‘the new nature’, which have
legal instruments required. In conserva- enabled the museum to become a new
tion, priority was given to studying the point of reference in the visual arts for a-
building: the climatic features, security tists, critics and the public in general. On
and the establishment of a conservation its premises, the works of regional and
and restoration workshop. In research, national artists have been shown at in-
the necessary inter-institutional links dividual or group exhibitions.
were established for a joint action plan to In its daily programmes, the museum
ensure that existing or planned resources not only provides opportunities to orga-
for the institution were identified and nize exhibitions but offers other cultural
mobilized. A documentation centre was services as well, including: a film club;
organized. Since all initial activities con- sales of handicrafts; a bookshop; tourist
centrated on identifying, educating and services; courses and workshops and
attracting a public for the museum, no special activities for children. The
effort was spared in museum education; ‘Camino del Sol’ (Sunshine Street)
this meant that priority and resources workshop is held every day except Sunday
were given to an educational plan aimed for children’s institutions. The mu-
at adults, young people, children and the seum’svisiting hours have been extended
public in general, including students and to allow the working public to visit it and
specialists. -_ at the ‘Cafe de los Martes’ (Tuesday
The Iack of a public was a factor thkt coffee meeting) members of the public
absolutely had to be overcome when ac- are invited to take part in guided tours
tivities began. When the museum open- and enjoy a cup of good coffee together.
ed, there was no indication of what Popular festivals are also held at the
public it was working for. In fact, there museum; the calendar of its main exhibi-
was no public as such, so the community tions is planned in accordance with their
as a whole was the potential public. The dates and incorporated in important ac-
museum could cater for this either by im- tivities in the city. Many supporting
position or by dialogue. The second way events are held at the request of the in-
was chosen and a start made on encour- habitants, for example a seminar on the
aging participation. Motivations were community’sconcern about the future of
stimulated by a lively publicity plan and an urban zone, to which the museum in-
through social communication channels, vited officials, specialists and the: in-
approaching institutions and trade habitants concerned. This enabled .the
unions, and an adroit public relations latter to become more familiar with the
policy. Particular importance was attach- government’splans and established com-
ed to schools, with information about the munication among all parties in the
museum-school project, exhibitions, an search for a better solution to the needs
intensive programme of guided tours, expressed by the people and the ad-
and clubs for young people. Free lectures vocates of a better quality of life in the
aimed to give the general adult public in- city.
formation on themes related to the Another procedure for community
museum. The Central University of participation in the museum has been to
Venezuela in Caracas participated in this give the public a chance to have a say in
endeavour in a unique museum-univer- choosing subjects for the exhibition pro-
sity experiment: a long-term collabora- gramme. Ed Xanteco, Pictures and
tion agreement to extend educational ac- Testimony of a City Murket and The
tion. The exhibition programme also Visitution, the BZessed Virgin in Bar-
yielded noteworthy results. qgisimeto were two exhibitions combin-
ing objects, oral tradition and graphic the museum open its doors to researchers
and bibliographic documentation on two and institutions of various types;
living aspects of Barquisimeto: the com- presentation techniques be modernized
mercial and socio-cultural activity without involving heavy expenditures
generated around the city centre market incompatible with economic realities;
and the city’s most important religious the museum generate evaluation sys-
tradition, the visitation of the Blessed tems enabling it to judge whether its
Virgin. Both the church and the business activities are effective in relation to the
community-important forces in the community.
city -collaborated to facilitate the work The integral museum, by definition,
of collection and gave financial assistance plays a leading role in enabling the in-
for the organization of these exhibitions. dividual to identify with his natural and
Attendance figures were high, showing human environment in all its aspects.
that the people of Barquisimeto iden- There can be no question today in Latin
tified with them and were proud to show America of a museum that is devoted
visitors these expressions of their most only to the heritage; it must also be de-
deeply rooted cultural traditions. voted to development.
Such complex events presented a con- We believe that a far-reachingeffort of
ceptual, organizational and technical reflection should be devoted to this new
challenge, and the results indicated that situation. Practical reality must be
efforts to select, train and motivate staff situated within a museological doctrine
had borne fruit. The search for a different that clearly enables us to adapt the
path, for creativity and versatility, are museum to the needs of an increasingly
constant features and an effective for- urgent and complex time and place, one
mula for coping with the conditions of that is fraught with consequences for the
the environment, particularly the limited future.
technical resources, which are a challenge As Hugues de Varine pointed out in
to our ingenuity. The Barquisimeto 1976, hitherto consideration had been
Museum is today the most comprehen- given
sive in the west central region from the
standpoint of technical infrastructure, only to the ‘heritage’ of objects,
human resources training, premises and, regarded as ends in themselves. The
above all, prospects for growth. Func- museum was there for the objects and
tioning as a coalescing factor in the the public was authorized ... to con-
museum movement of the region, the template these objects without
Barquisimeto Museum is a cornerstone touching them and often without
for the formulation of alternatives that understanding them. We propose that
decentralize resources and options for the order of the factors be reversed and
effective preservation of the cultural that the starting point be the public, or
heritage and meaningful implementa- rather two types of user- society and
tion of policies. the individual. Instead of being there
for the objects, museums should be
What kind of museum for our there for people.6
societies?
Instead of a museum ‘of‘, we then must
As mentioned above, alongside the have a museum ‘for’, a museum for
ecomuseum concept, of European origin, education, for identification, for en-
there has emerged in Latin America the hancement, for comparison, for the gen-
concept of the integral museum. The eration of awareness, and lastly a mu-
similarities were pointed out at the San- seum for and as a function of a
tiago da Chile round table of 1972, at community.
which the concept was born.
Apart from specific peculiarities re- [ Tradatedfrom Spanish]
sulting from their target environments,
both types of institution could be
classified in either category. When refer-
ring to the integral museum concept, we
require that:
the museum open up its field and tradi-
tional domain for a full realization of
the anthropological, socio-economic 6. Hugues de Varine-Bohan, ‘The Modern
Museum: Requirements and Problems of a New
and technological development of our Approach’, Museum, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, 1976,
countries; p. 131.
*

Alpha Oumar Konaré Never has a territory, extending almost and captivated by what is ‘outside’. It is
5,000 kilometres throughout West Africa out there in that ‘culturaljungle’ that the
Born in 1946 in Kayes, Mali. Former head of the from Cape Verde to Lake Chad and cover- decadent elements of foreign, particular-
Historical and Ethnological Heritage Division of ing 5.3 million square kilometres, so ly Western, cultures have come to
Mali, and former Minister of Culture of Mali. Cur- captured international public opinion. prevail. Juvenile delinquency, particu-
rently professor of history and archaeology at the In-
stitute of Higher Training and Applied Research, the (an Arabic word mean- larly the prostitution of minors, has
Bamako, Mali. Vice-presidentof ICOM since 1983. ing the border of the desert) displays all developed. Everything is dominated by
the aspects of serious drought: frequent Mammon. Begging is on the increase.
sandstorms; dried-up and silted-up water The drought has led to the destruction
courses, devoid of fish; dried-up wells; of the process of transmission of
cracked, bare earth; bushland stripped of knowledge, affecting most harshly the
all that is edible; tracks strewn with the very old, those ‘livinglibraries’ and guar-
carcaSSes of animals; miserable harvests; dians of tradition, and the very young,
makeshift camps for disaster victims set the builders of tomorrow.
up around the towns; the exodus of rural Uprooted populations abandon their
inhabitants towards the towns and huts and villages, drawn far away from
beyond; half-starved children and elderly their traditional habitat, often forever.
people fallen victim to undernourish- Such areas are therefore left to
ment, malnutrition and numerous plunderers, tourists hankering after ex-
ailments. 1 oticism, and smugglers who, in the guise
The cultural consequences of this of antique dealers, contribute substan-
drought are enormous. In terms of the tially to the illicit trade in cultural
family unit, which is at the very centre of property.
local culture, all the traditional values of The desert, encroaching regularly each
solidarity, hospitality, participation and
respect for the elders have been brought
into question. The home has tended to 1. The eight countries of the Sahel (Burkina
become a mere sleeping place, stripped Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Mali,
Mauritania, Niger and Senegal) are classified
of any cultural activity. People have among the poorest countries of the world (per
become drawn into the street, attracted capita income ranging from $120 to $340).

44
Oualata, Mauritania. Interior courtyard of a
traditional house. Situated at a crossroads of
caravan routes, Oualata, like Tichitt and
Chinguitti, is among the last surviving
witnesses of the region’s former prosperity.
Ecomuseums for the Sahel: a proframme 23 1

year some 20 to 30 kilometres because The most famous of these national to strengthen co-operation between sub-
of human behaviour (extensive cattle museums are those in Niamey (Niger) regional cultural institutions, par-
breeding, bushfires and tree felling), is and in Bamako (Mali). All these national ticularly museums;
modifying the environment, the plant museums are generally institutions of a to ensure better dissemination of the
cover and local living conditions and very traditional kind, of a pluridisci- Sahelian culture in other countries;
habitat. Eating habits have changed, plinary nature, where ethnography and to set up a major documentation centre
thereby strengthening chains of depen- history have pride of place. The museums on the Sahel.
dence. Food crops are gradually giving have made no provision for the safeguard- Some four years after it was inaugurated
way to cash crops. Under the guise of aid, ing of the natural environment, even the Sahel Museum in Gao was tempor-
the Sahel is currently being subjected to though some of them possess zoological arily closed. This breakdown was due to
a transfer of knowledge and know-how facilities, and their responsibility does various shortcomings, some of which
which obstructs the use of traditional not extend to sites and monuments. stemmed from the kind of faulty
methods. Their scope of activity extends beyond organization that could affect any type of
As regards arts and crafts, numerous the limits of the Sahel alone and encom- museum. Other problems sprang directly
craftsmen can no longer pursue their passes all of the country which they repre- from the way the museum’s aims were
trade for want of raw materials which sent. Relations between museums on a pursued at the local level, some of which
have disappeared and because of com- regional basis are extremely rare. were in direct contradiction to eco-
petition from imported goods. Many In all these countries, projects for local museum principles.2
craftsmen sell their goods for very little museums are currently taking shape:
profit, in order to be able to buy a few some of these will take into account all The way the SaheZ Museum was
foodstuffs and direct their efforts towards the elements of their environment. One planned and set zcp
craft goods for the tourist trade. of these is the Ecomuseum of Ziguinchor
A substantial proportion of the local in Senegal, which is still at the project The museum was never housed in its own
population does not yet benefit from any stage. premises. Use was always made of an old
basic education and cannot have access to Another interesting project is the Sahel family dwelling which was rented for this
it because of the excessive cost of school- Museum of Gao (Mali) opened in 1981, purpose. This house has small rooms, is
ing. Many children have been forced to within the framework of a new museum in poor condition (cracked walls through
give up school, through poverty and the policy adopted on the occasion of the first which water is seeping) and has no elec-
need to search for food. The actual con- symposium on museums in Mali in May tricity. It can neither provide a place of
tent of classroom teaching is poorly 1976. This policy defined a programme safekeeping for objects on display nor a
adapted to rural development and has of regional museums, including the pleasant environment for visitors. It bare-
been subjected to the influence of the Sahel Museum in Gao. It recommended ly provides display facilities, let alone any
Western model. The educational system that museums be democratized in terms other services that might be required.
as it stands today encourages still further of their basic conception, access, modes The terms of the lease allow for no altera-
the uprooting of the population. of communication, programmes and re- tions whatsoever.
In the face of such waste, which may sponsibilities in order to ensure that they The museum was subjected to con-
prove to be irreparable, what can be became institutions that are open to a siderable instability in management
made of the silence which envelops wide section of the community, which through the appointment of successive
everything that does not bring in cash could identify itself with the items ex- directors (three in four years), the absence
payment? What can be made of the hibited. of motivation on the part of some and the
silence which surrounds the dangers that It was not until the end of 1979 that impatience of others, and because of the
threaten the cultural heritage of the practical steps were taken to launch the problems that have not yet been solved
Sahel? How can the pursuit of happiness preparation of the Sahel Museum and it by the central administrative authorities.
be limited to eating and drinking? How was not before 1981 that the inaugural The director was the only permanent staff
can we overlook the fact that human exhibition took place in temporary member of the museum and the other
development is based on man’s natural buildings in Gao. The museum is the five members of staff were trainees
environment, cultural heritage, the responsibility of the Ministry of Sport, recruited on graduation from the Na-
creativity of local men and women, the the Arts and Culture and is run through tional Arts Institute. The various direc-
enrichment derived through exchange the Regional Directorate for Sport, the tors of the Sahel Museum have received
with other human groups, that develop- Arts and Culture in Gao. It had several no training other than an introductory
ment is an improvement in the quality of objectives: course in museology at the National
life obtained through the assertion of a to provide the population of the Sahel Museum in Bamako. Nor was the
cultural identity? with a form of education that is dif- museum ever provided with its own
The efforts made so far for the safe- ferent from that provided by tradi- budget.
guarding of the Sahel, through the set- tional schools and which would be Today, especially after a second sem-
ting up of cultural institutions or the aimed at all sections of the com- inar on museums in Mali held in April
launching of programmes, have been munity; 1985, other reasons of a more profound
hampered by limited intellectual com- to provide the population of the Sahel
mitment, which has had little support with better knowledge of its environ-
from unequivocal political commitment. ment in terms of history, economics, 2. For an earlier account of the aims and work
Each of the eight countries of the Sahel, sociology, human ecology, etc. ; of the museum see Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier’s
taken as a political entity, possesses at to participate in providing a better work- article ‘Museum Programming and Development
Poky’ in h h e u m , Vol. XXXV, No. 2, 1983,
least one national museum in its capital. ing environment for craftsmen; pp. 94-7.
232 Alpha Oumar Koaaré

equal proportions. In actual fact, Mali


provided assistance to the Bremen
Museum for executing its own pro-
gramme. Such co-operation without any
real reciprocity was not part of any long-
term programme defined by both sides.
Rather, it was the result of a circum-
scribed aim, that of helping the Bremen
Museum to extend its exhibition
facilities, which was not necessarily com-
patible with the creation of a new
museum in Mali. It would be difficult to
speak of a local or national initiative on
the part of Mali. There was no tradition,
furthermore, of previous co-operation
between the Bremen Museum and the
Mali museum authorities. The innova-
tion which we had sought to bring about
45 proved to be a failure through lack of
The oasis of Atar-Chinguitti, Mauritania, nature can be seen to have accounted for follow-up activities.
1969. the museum’s deficiencies. These relate The museum was in fact conceived as
to the conditions in which it was set up, traditional, in spite of the fact that a
the underlying purpose assigned to it, preference had been stated for opening
and the relations between the National up the facilities to the outside world
Museum in Bamako and the Sahel Mu- through organizing itinerant exhibitions
seum in Gao. or handicraft workshops. The pluri-
In the absence of any specific financial disciplinary approach which alone would
resources, the Ministry for Sport, the Arts have made it possible to encompass all
and Culture of Mali wished to benefit the problems related to development,
from a programme of co-operation particularly ecology, was only partial.
financed by the Bremen Overseas Mu- The museum was essentially planned by
seum in order to set up a preliminary specialists-sociologists, historians and
collection. A joint mission undertook ethnologists-who had little to do with
research in the Adrar of the Isforas and the local populations. While the overall
succeeded in buying from the local aim was to be pluridisciplinary, the hold-
populations complete material culture ing of individual ethnographical exhibi-
collections, one for the Sahel Museum tions, dealing with particular ethnic
and the other for the Bremen Overseas groups through external funding, posed
Museum. a major problem: the minority groups
In order to serve educational interests felt excluded from such activities. Fur-
and through respect for exhibition ethics, thermore, there was no overall pro-
it was agreed that the exhibition planned gramme or development plan which pro-
for the museum would be prepared in vided a comprehensive approach to the
Bremen and in Mali and presented in the museum. No order of priority seemed to
Tamasheq area of the Isforas, in Gao, the exist with respect to history, archaeology
regional capital, in Bamako, the national or ecology. There was no provision made
capital, and in Bremen in the Federal in any programme for the training of per-
Republic of Germany. A critical appraisal sonnel.
of these various presentations was to pro-
vide an indication of the way the various LìttZe Zocdparticipation
populations reacted to the exhibition, to
identify more closely the way in which a The Sahel Museum project was a ‘high-
population saw itself or wished to be level’ decision. Apart from the collection
seen, how neighbouring populations phase, no other phase was understood by
considered each other and how foreigners the various ethnic groups of the region.
reacted to them. The public awareness campaign was
The proposed circuit for the exhibition limited to the groups visited for collec-
was not properly adhered to, however, in tion purposes, whereas it should have in-
fact it was soon discarded once the collec- volved all the Touaregs and other ethnic
tions had been acquired. The participa- groups of the area (Songhoi, Moors and
tion of the two partners in the execution Fulani).
of the project (in financial, scientific and The opening of the first exhibition, on
technical terms) did not take place in the Touaregs in Gao, at a time of political
Ecomuseums for the &he/.: a Programme 233

tension was interpreted by the inhabi- elsewhere. Only the Touaregs arriving in
tants-mostly Songhoi-as a provoca- Gao knew of the existence of an exhibi-
tion, an opportunity given to the tion on one of their particular ethnic
Touaregs to celebrate their electoral vic- groups.
tory over the sedentary population. The The museum appeared to be more
inaugural ceremonies and the museum specifically aimed at officialsand tourists.
were therefore boycotted by the Songhoi. In fact the initial reaction of the regional
This proved also to be the case for the authorities was not always positive:
celebration of the national day for the
safeguarding of the cultural heritage in A population which is constantly
May 1982. The opening of a second ex- 'searching for food cannot be made to
hibition, this time on the Songhoi (an- take an interest in archaeology or mu-
nounced well before the opening of the seums or rock paintings; such things
museum), did not succeed in completely can be of little interest for a population
dispelling the initial misunderstanding. of this kind merely because they repre-
The population of Gao did not feel sent its culture or they involve some
directly concerned with the museum; the future development. The foremost 46
population involved actually lived concern is with finding something to Nomad life in Niger.
234 Alpha Ownar Konaré

eat and with enabling the local popu- heritage. Debate limited exclusively to who can rebuild or build afresh, continue
lation to settle on the land.3 intellectual circles cannot have any suc- to do so?
cessful outcome and can only lead to We are convinced that if ecomuseum
In view of this absence of participation, it more or less covert imitations, whereas practice becomes established and in-
was impossible to encourage the local the task should be to reverse the trend volves representatives of the national
population to contribute to the funding, and bring about a real break with the col- cultures who have not been trained in
management and development of the onial or neo-colonial heritage. Only those foreign institutions, various new ap-
museum. It should be pointed out that who actuallylive their culture or help it to proaches, applications and even exten-
the participation of representatives from survive can think up new autonomous sions of the concept will be required. Cer-
other Sahelian countries (particularly structures. An approach that is different tain methods will have to give pride of
Niger and Senegal) at the international from that offered traditionally by the place to the role played by certain social
symposium in 1981 remained limited to educational system must be found; the units, such as the family, and by specific
a presentation of their own experience in influence of contemporary schooling resources, such as old people.
the field of museums, without any con- must be reduced and more importance What other specific obstacles will have
sideration being given as to how the im- given to traditional education or to com- to be overcome in the establishment of
portance of this new museum could be pletely new patterns. ecomuseums in the Sahel? There is, first
extended to the Sahel as a whole. New applications must lead to a and foremost, the low population density
reinterpretation of the role of education. (today, 3 3 million; in the year 2000, 50
Rekatìons with the Nationak New structures should provide a homoge- million: seven to eight inhabitants per
Museum in Bamako neous approach to education, culture and square kilometre) over vast areas that are
information, brought together as a not connected to each other by channels
The National Museum in Bamako was whole, and should also integrate all the of communication. There is also the
designed to be the central ‘lung’ for the resources of the environment, both multiplicity of countries, with their often
museums of Mali. Its purpose is to pro- human and material. Finding an answer artificial political borders that do not cor-
vide complementary, co-ordinating and to this particular problem in the Sahel re- respond to cultural groupings, making it
reference facilities and to be a central quires the implementation of a long-term necessary to ensure that the populations
workshop and laboratory for all the other strategy involving several generations. of the Sahel are made aware of belonging
museums in the country. Our own cultures, our own experience, to the same ecosystem. There is sheer
The part played by the National must serve as a starting-point for such a poverty and the fight to survive. Due con-
Museum in co-operation with the strategy. Thought must also be given to sideration must also be paid to the con-
Department for the National Heritage, the contributionsmade by the proponents cept which the populations have of
which is the governing body of the local of a new type of museology (in constant nature, which they see as a source of
museums, posed problems with regard to quest of man’s identity) and to the wealth for immediate use, to ensure the
the division of responsibilities without ecomuseum as a basis for a new and vital survival of the community, and not for
actually requiring a new definition of phase that is both free and conducive to the satisfaction of future needs. And
relations between the local museums and freedom. This phase will continue to although the safeguarding of objects cer-
the National Museum. Furthermore, the develop, and provide further prospects tainly means their conservation with all
Sahel Museum did not entertain rela- that are both new and ambitious. their relevant rituals, it more especially
tions with any other national institution, means the creation of better conditions in
not even the subregional cultural and Probkems in the Afhcan context which such objects can be re-created. So
scientific institutions or even the long as craftsmen survive and observe
museums. The ecomuseum approach poses a num- traditions, so long as customs remain,
ber of problems with regard to Africa. the objects of a particular civilizationwill
New ideas for museum pokicy The concept of an ecomuseum implies live on.
the participation both of the government
With the help of the assessments made at and of the population. What sort of Proposaks for our ecomuseums
the 1985 seminar on museums in Mali, government can successfully set up an
together with the intention expressed by ecomuseum? Is not an ecomuseum the The Sahel should be viewed as a whole
the local authorities to solve the problem instrument of a society with a great within which various homogeneous,
of premises, it should be possible to degree of awareness, with a high level of clearly delineated and accessible ‘ter-
relaunch the activities of the Sahel development, which has already solved ritories’ would be defined, according to
Museum in Gao. It would appear in- many political problems and whose criteria which would be chosen by the
dispensable, nevertheless, that new ap- citizens already enjoy certain rights? Can- population concerned. There would be as
plications of museum policy be clearly not the will to assume full responsibility many ecomuseums as villages (or groups
defined if further ‘breakdowns’are to be for one’s society, the very foundation of of villages) or camps of nomadic tribes (or
avoided, which might herald serious con- an ecomuseum, first manifest itself in groups of camps of nomadic tribes),
sequences for the museum, or even its time before taking shape in space?In our possessing a certain linguistic, cultural or
definitive closure. Whatever new direc- view, the ecomuseum does not, in its pre- ethnic unity. Such a territorial unit would
tions are identified, these will remain sent form, take sufficiently into account correspond to a locus of economic activi-
suspect so long as educated people who the immaterial features (speech, ritual, ty, of initiatory rites and of community
are not products of the French educa- signs, etc.) that are so cherished by
3. Declaration made by the Regional Governor
tional system are excluded from discus- societies with an oral culture. If such at the first symposium on museums held in Mali,
sions on the safeguarding of the cultural things are no longer cherished, will man, May 1976.
Ecomuseumsf o r the Sahel: a programme 235

47
The track from Zinder to Agadès, in Niger.

48
ventures. The corresponding ecomu- the responsibility for choosing, according A well in the Atar region of Mauritania.
seums would be complementary, form- to its own criteria, those objects to be
ing a regional network. Some would be preserved as well as those which are of in-
grouped around central units including terest to neighbouring communities and
administrative offices, exhibition halls, to outsiders.
laboratories, storage facilities, special All the objects for which the ecomu-
itineraries, research facilities, etc. These seum would assume responsibility would
central installations or ‘lungs’ would remain within its territory. They would
have their own collections, made up of only be moved in accordance with the
objects taken out of their usual context. movement of their populations or their
They could be housed in the various ad- trustees. Otherwise, they could only be
ministrative capitals and run by well- moved if they were to be presented out-
trained technical personnel, who would side their usual context.
be the sole permanent staff. The existing museum in Gao could be
The outlying units would not have redesigned along these lines to include
their own collections- the objects would various outposts and itineraries (for ex-
remain in the possession of their owners ample, the tomb of the Askia, the royal
or their users. These would include more cemetery of Samé). In this way, the Sahel
particularly those objects being regularly would be provided with a cultural docu-
used as part of local cultural life. An ob- mentation centre and a centre for itin-
ject that is ‘kept alive’ is one that is erant exhibitions.
suitablypreserved.Judicious use of radio,
and hence of the spoken word, of audio- ,
Some objectives
visual facilities and of informatics would
make it possible to prolong the life of The final goal of the activities of ecomu-
these objects and bring an added dimen- seums in the Sahel region should be to
sion to such ecomuseums. rekindle the critical spirit and judgement
Each ecomuseum would have to take of the local people so that they may
responsibility for all the objects, rites and identlfy their own problems to give them
signs, and events which take place within new confidence in themselves, greater
its territory, while giving special atten- scope for individual initiative, and to
tion to series. It would safeguard all these make them more responsible members of
as cultural rather than legal property, as the community. The ecomuseumsshould
the latter notion would only arise in enable the Sahelian population to
respect of contemporary objects, those assume more fully its identity within its
without any specific ownership or those environment. The activities pursued by
which had belonged to former genera- the ecomuseums would be varied and of
tions. This would exclude the possibility a multiple nature and would be con-
of attributing a commercial value to ducted by pluridisciplinary teams of per-
them, of discriminating between them. sonnel. These facilities would enhance a
Each community concerned would have museological approach to the Sahel,
236 Alpha Oumgr Konaré

rather than making do with passive con- elements of the oral tradition. The inal environment. External intervention
templation of the past or the present. ecomuseums would constitute the best would always have to be carefully defined
They would participate fully in man's conservatories for plant and animal and planned with the agreement of each
endeavours to secure his survival, in his species and classified areas and territory and would have to be confined
quest for food, water and shelter. monuments. In addition to being leisure to training and technical support.
What can be done to harness water centres and cultural documentation in- It would seem rather unlikely that in-
resources? What can be done to derive stitutions, they would also serve as centresdividual states could provide the funding
the best advantage from the ecosystem? to promote solidarity and the develop- for such museums in their present
What can be done to fight against the ment of associative activities. material circumstances, given the
deterioration of the land, over-grazing number of difficult decisions that have to
and deforestation? What can be done to
combat desertification? These questions
Conditions for szcccess - be made. Social projects will have to be
postponed for some considerable time.
would not be alien to the preoccupations Their success would depend on the extent The establishment of ecomuseums would
of ecomuseums. If they did not take into to which local populations were allowed have to be undertaken within the context
account such preoccupations of the local to participate in every phase of their im- of integrated projects conducted by the
populations, they would be condemned plementation. Some people believe that various countries, by regional or sub-
to the status of cemeteries. It would be such necessary concertation would be regional organizations, or by associative
vital that the co-operation of young peo- protracted and arduous, if not futile. Ob- or community groups.
ple be secured in order to undertake the viously, participation cannot be limited We can conclude by pointing out that
systematic collection of all objects and to surveys in the field or answers to ques- the vision which the Sahelian population
traditions threatened with rapid extinc- tionnaires. If the confidence of the local has of man, of the natural world which
tion. Through exhibitions, the most im- populations is to be obtained, they must surrounds him and of the need for the
portant aspects of the life of local popula- be made to realize that those responsible struggle for survival, corresponds to an
tions and their environment would be for promoting ecomuseums do genuinely ecomuseum vision, a specific attitude of
illustrated and social problems, together share the same destiny. self-knowledge,self-recognitionand self-
with all the decadent elements of our The establishment of such museums imposed responsibility. The ecomuseum
cultural traditions, could also be should necessarily give appropriate con- experiencewould contribute to loosening
highlighted. sideration to the means which local the hold of erroneous development
Many other areas could also be dealt populations have at their disposal, in strategieswhich are the cause of our coun-
with, such as the history and geography order to prevent any recurring financial tries' current failures. As a mode of par-
of the Sahelian countries. This would burdens. The museums should reflect the ticipation and management the ecomu-
help to emphasize their ancient tradi- aspirations and the material resources of seum concept could constitute a major
tions, facilitate mutual recognition and the populations. In order to achieve this, breakthrough in the field of culture and,
illustrate the threat and permanence of the projects should be of modest propor- for that matter, in life in general. As in
the Sahelian dilemma. Other subjects tions, not of an incidental nature, and the case of any achievement, it will re-
might relate to specific ecological pro- should form part of a real programme. quire self-sacrificeand disinterestedness.
blems or national technologies, in order The levying of additional taxes should It will be a labour of love.
to emphasize the capacity of adaptation not be resorted to for building these If this transformation, which is not an
to environmental constraints without museums. The local populations should end in itself, were not brought about in
dependency on external aid for ensuring be able to play their part through their Africa and more especially in the Sahel,
the development of certain economic sec- various associations (either financially local populations would be even less
tors, such as arts and crafts and the or through practical participation in the mobilized in the defence of their
analysis of trading relations. activities and building work). The tradi- cultures. Greater cultural destruction
The ecomuseums would make it poss- tional African associations would pro- would occur, leading to subservience and
ible to set up new and better-adapted bably be very mistrustful and unrespon- a loss of cultural identity. If this were to
structures for mass and rural education. sive with regard to projects of this kind. be the case, the path of the cultural strug-
They would display a genuine commit- It would therefore be necessary to en- gle would merge more than ever with that
ment to the promotion of national lan- courage the setting up of new associations of the struggle for life itself.
guages through their compulsoryuse and with the help of emigrants who had never
through the collection and use of any dissociated themselves from their orig- [ Transhtedfrom French]
237

To work on a whole district, using its full The team always tried to be virtually Fernanda de Camargo e Almeida-Moro
potential; to arouse the community’s invisible or ‘transparent’; it encouraged
awareness by bringing it into direct con- and participated, but did not interfere, Born in Rio deJaneiro. B.A. in museum studies and
tact with the natural and cultural en- and made no attempt to bring about any history. M.A. and P1i.D. in archaeology. Former
vironment, developing its traditions, Director General of hluseums, Rio de Janeiro State
significant changes in existing structures.
and President of the Council for the Protection of
drawing on its roots, and fostering its own In 1970 we described this very lively ex- the Cultural Heritage. Now director for research
creativity; to preserve the overall environ- periment to Georges Henri Rivière and and applied programmes of MOUSEION; member
ment: all these were the purposes of the Hugues de Varine, who gave us their of the scientific council of the Museum of As-
project that we began to implement, in wholehearted support and invited us to tronomy in Rio. President of the Brazilian Na-
tional Committee of ICOM: member of the
about 1968, in the Santa Tereza district play a more active part in the work of Executive Council of ICOM and of the Museums
of Rio de Janeiro. ICOM. At the time we called our project Commission of the International Union of An-
‘Conceptual Museum of the District’. thropological and Ethnographical Sciences.
The conceptud musezim of the The premises of the museum consisted of
district the entire district, with its participants,
life, structures and memorabilia. The
A group of people fired with enthusiasm programme, which expanded steadily,
for the idea -the former Cepi teaml- was redefined often. Later, during the
had decided to take to the streets of this 1971 ICOM General Conference held in
picturesque district, which is located on Paris and Grenoble, we realized that this
top of a hill in Rio where some of us lived trend towards open museum practice,
and where others worked. We had no one of a different and more participa-
preconceived ideas. All that we wanted tive kind, was gathering momentum
was to discover the district, preserve it throughout the world, and that in a way
and increase its potential. In our thirst for it was connected with the ideas of the
discovery, we found places and people young ecomuseological movement.2
where and with whom we lived intensely;
we did our best to encourage their
development, using artists’ studios, 1. Nucleus of the future MOUSEION-Centre
museums and other establishments as of Museological Studies and Human Sciences-
an institution which has launched various
meeting places and centres of creativity, programmes and projects of research and action
and in particular using the local market as in the field of alternative museology in Rio de
Janeiro.
a focal point for educational and cultural 2. In the sense that was later to be analysed by
activities. Sven Lindquist, in Grüv dür du Star.
49
MUSEUNACIONAL DE HISTORIA NATURAL,
%o Cristóvão. A Wznderkabinet where
the children of Rio have made their first
discoveries of cultural property.

50
The Ferrez ceiling at the Primeiro Reinado
Museum -‘the heaven that Reverend
Father told us about’.
238 Femanda d e Camargo e Almeida-Moro

quently by a prosperous middle class,


while the poor drifted towards the
hillsides and settled in the favelas.
When the former Cepi team started
work in São Cristóvão, several years ago,
it did so in the belief that it was em-
barking on a programme comparable
with that which it had carried out at Santa
Tereza. But every district has its own per-
sonality and calls for a different attitude
and different ways of generating
awareness. We were obliged to go right
into the district and carry out a con-
siderable amount of exploration and
analysis before we could tackle the prac-
tical task of creating what we consider to
be an integrated ecomuseum.
We reached the conclusion that the
community was not made up solely of
those who had their homes there; we also
had to take into account those who work-
ed in the district and consequently used
51 it from sunrise to sunset, as well as the
Discovery of scientific toys in the São São Crìstóvão, an iiztegrated regular buyers and sellers at the Nordeste
Cristóvão park. ecomusezcm market, that living Sunday museum
where all the inhabitants of Rio who
We persisted in our endeavour, and when originally came from the north-east flock
we went to work at São Cristóvão, a splen- together to spend the day.
did district in northern Rio, we began to
plant the seeds of a new project for an All of this forms a living fabric whose
open museum. The original concept closely interwoven threads are in-
might have seemed similar to that ap- separable. The district is a harmonious
plied at Santa Tereza, but since the whole, with no rigid barriers, oper-
district was totally different we were led ating as an indivisible entity. And thus
to stress different aspects. It was in fact it will continue to live, developing
a venture in what we have called ‘in- vigorously a rich emotional tapestry.8
tegrated ecomuseology’. 3
It is in São Cristóvão, that the carioca4 A museum co-operativefor the
child usually establishes his or her first benefit of the district
profound relationship with the concept
of the universe, with the natural environ- When we assumed responsibility in 1980
ment and with the past. It is here that, for inspecting the state museums and,
brought by their parents, small children
discover the enormous Quinta da Boa
Vista Park, the ancient building and the
3. This is the concept of associative community
collections of the National Museum, or life that we postulated in 1968 with the Santa
the silvery domes of the National Obser- Tereta project, considerably developed from 1973
vatory ‘where you can see the stars Images onwards with the project for the Museum of
of the Unconscious (see ‘Museum of
through the giant telescope’. It is here, Images of the Unconscious, Rio de Janeiro: An
too, that children discover the huge Experience Lived within a Psychiatric Hospital’,
Vol. XXVIII, No. 1, 1976, pp. 34-41),
market of the Nordeste, which is as noisy Museum,
and subsequently formulated in 1974 during a
as it is colourful, and where, between UnescolUNDP consultation for El Salvador. We
mountains of objects and foodstuffs, they continue to draw inspiration from it in all the
projects for living, open museums that we are
may catch a glimpse of singers and endeavouring to put into effect.
storytellers.5 One also finds very big 4. The term carioca, which originally
favelas (shanty towns) clustered on the designated people born in Rio de Janeiro, today
applies to all who live there.
slopes of the hills, churches that are never 5 . Feira do Nordeste, a market selling produce
empty, samba schools,6 businesses- from the north-east of the country.
6. Samba schools are groups creating sambas,
large, medium and small -togetherwith usually located in thefiveLa.r, which not only
thriving industries. This district, where compose music but also set the theme and design
the royal family and the nobility lived the costumes presented in carnival processions.
7. The period between 1822 and 1889.
under the Empire,’ was later taken over 8. Fernanda de Camargo e Almeida-Moro,
by the upper middle classes, and subse- Cartas de São Cristo’vão, Rio de Janeiro, 1980.
Crirto’v2o: a district ecomureum
S~O 239

shortly afterwards, for the Primero The objective was to interweave the
Reinado Museum-a pilot unit of the activities of the district, to induce the
state museums which was located at São community to increase its creative and
Cristóvão-we saw this as an opportunity spontaneous participation, to encourage
to speed up the implementation of our transactions and meetings by this means
project and to associate all the public and and to infuse new life into local tradi-
private museums of the district in it, tions. Our idea to preserve a form of life,
together with the National Observatory, for the natural and cultural heritage,
which today is itself a museum, the Quin- including day-to-day activity, was inter-
ta da Boa Vista Park, the samba schools, preted as a whole-the living history of
and other educational and cultural a community in a given territory.
establishments. Here was a whole collec- At the Primeiro Reinado, we did all we
tion of institutions which would enliven could to encourage the community to
the district and rouse the community to take part in the daily life of the
action, as the Cepi team had done in San- museum.10 It was therefore necessary to
ta Tereza with its first programme. open the establishment completely to
This time we wished to have the sup- visitors, even giving them access to every-
port of established institutions, not only day routine. We made a point of devising
because of the very large size of the a project that was flexible enough to
district but also because we hoped to in- allow us to accept the community’s par- 52
volve them in our work. They would form ticipation in the form in which it was Of- A t the Feira do Nordeste, foodstuffs which
a homogeneous whole, conducive to fered and to allow the community, in have travelled over 2,000 kilometres.
developing the interdisciplinary attitude turn. to come to acceDt us. We could not
that should prevail in the collection of conceal the museum’s weak points from
everything that belongs to the collective the public, and while, on the one hand,
memory. To create yet another institu- we endeavoured to promote interaction
tion in the form of the district ecomu- between the community and the
seum was out of the question: we had to heritage, believing the former to be not
shape our ecomuseum by incorporating only a consumer but also a primary source
existing institutions into it. of material, we demonstrated, on the
The Primeiro Reinado Museum, the other hand, the need for a team of
former manor house of the Marchioness qualified specialists, who would be both
de Santos,g played a key role in the first participants and consumers.
part of the programme by virtue of the
research work that MOUSEION conduct-
ed on the district. At no rime, however,
was this role of leader used to the detri- 9. Domitila de Castro Canto e Mello, elevated
ment of creativity or of the projects of by the Emperor Pedro to the rank of Viscountess
other participating institutions, for each and later to that of Marchioness de Santos.
10. Fernanda de Camargo e Almeida-Moro,
of these, in a spirit of active participation, O Nuseo como ristema de educacao nao formal,
proposed its own specific field of action. D. O. Bahia, 19 December 1984.

I
240 Fernanda de Camargo e Almeida-Moro

The Ziuìng universe of the museum Up to that point, these children’s rela- important is not always the museum
tionship with dreams had been channell- itself, but the art of extracting benefit
The mythopoeic story of the Primeiro ed through the allegories of the samba from it.
Reinado Museum ensconced in the schools, which, like all allegories, tended The Park and the houses of the district
manor house of the Marchioness de San- towards caricature. Their reaction to the convey a picture of the environment, the
tos, the Emperor’s favourite, was cut scenes painted on the walls, neo-classical Observatory a vision of the universe, the
down to size: more important now was and tropical combined,l3 and to the sub- National Museum a view of the world,
the discovery of a remarkable dwelling tle shades of difference in the filtered and the Nordeste market a feeling of en-
with a vast potential for the enhancement light of the museum, is difficult to chantment for everyone and of nostalgia
of its beauty and the wonderfül collection describe. Watching their small faces and for some. The samba schools radiate joy.
of paintings and sculptures that it con- their expressive gestures, the members of The Primeiro Reinado Museum is in-
tained. As reinterpreted by us, this the staff who came to this museum every dissociable from all of these, for its task is
manor house is now a place of intense day learned something new: what it to show that the diversity of our people
cultural activity, easily accessible, where means to discover something that one has stems from a certain symbiosis, and to
historical figures are accepted quite never even imagined. One of the high- respond to this in its activities. But the
naturally as a part of daily life. lights of the visit was when the children collections and paintings in its exhibi-
One of the team’s many plans was to threw themselves on the floor to look at tion rooms could not alone reveal the
encourage the community to use the the ceiling with its delicate relief work by origins of this symbiosis. We therefore
museum’s premises for its own creative Ferrez, representing the classical Pan- had recourse to temporary exhibitions on
activities. In the early days, local groups theon.14 Their excitement was so great specific topics: The Carnival of Venice,
of musicians came to play at the museum; that we found it infectious. I heard one Taste in the Days of the Empire and The
later a group of young people came to child say to another: ‘Look,it’s the heaven Road to the Indies. These shows carried
compose music and practise until one that Reverend Father told us about.’ further the questing spirit of the com-
Sunday, when they were ready, they gave munity, and were all concerned ultimate-
a concert in the bandstand in the square From the past to the present ly with the process of acculturation.
next to the market. We exchanged visits In the case of The Carnival‘ o f Venice,
with shopkeepers in the district, local Forging links within a community, like we focused our attention on its origin
garage mechanics, schoolchildren and enlisting its active participation, is no and development. We reconstituted
the inhabitants of the favelas, and we easy matter, and it is even more difficult eighteenth-century Venice in the mu-
were helped by them. We managed to to give shape to an open area without im- seum, taking the samba schools as a
find a bus to transport small children posing any limits or constraints. And point of reference. In the Taste in the
from the shanty towns, who came to take therein, perhaps, lay the programme’s Days o f the Empire exhibition, we
an active part in the life of the district.” fascination for us. One of the most im- studied the house itself as the expression
One day, more than fifty children ar- portant challenges was to reconcile all the of the acculturations that we have absorb-
rived at the National Observatory. The wishes expressed: the easiest way of doing ed through miscegenation and the way
bus stopped beside the Park where the this, and in fact the only way, was that tastes were formed at the time. 16 The
domes of the Observatory are surrounded through acceptance of others just as they aim of The Road to the Indies was to
by tall mango trees heavy with fruit. The are, through discovery and rediscovery. illustrate the intermingling of the races
children rushed to them, climbed the Sometimes an institution had to make and cultures that have made us what we
trees and scrambled down again, stuffing an effort to be more receptive.15 This was
themselves with mangoes; some of the not true of the National Museum of
adults in charge gaped at them in amaze- Natural History. The former House of
ment, while others tried to restore order; Birds, which is the oldest museum in the
but the instructionswere that they should country, has a fascinating and varied set
be allowed to do as they pleased. The of collections: mummified animals, in- 11. As Pierre Mayrand said in a paper entitled
‘L’Écomusée de Haute-Beauce’, which he
children did not see the stars that day - digenous objects, archaeological collec- presented at the international seminar held at
they ate mangoes! The next day the bus, tions, herbarium, serpents in bottles- Oaxtepec, Mexico, 1984: ‘The ecomuseum is not
crammed with new enthusiasts, parked not to mention the antique collection of something to be visited: it is a living experience.’
12. The plots invented by the samba schools
again under the mango trees. Those who curiosities. Although some museologists include free-ranging allegories of surprising
had come the previous day went to see the are calling for a more modern type of richness.
13. As a result of the acculturation process,
stars. Those who had come for the first museology the public still loves the tropical iconography has been added to neo-
time ate mangoes. On the third day, all WanderLabinet- the museum par classical iconography. The effect thereby pro-
the children saw the stars. From the excellence-a place where the children duced is powerful.
14. Marc and Zéphyrin Ferrez, who came to
outset, the principle underlying our pro- of Rio, whatever their beliefs, traditions Brazil with the Lebreton (French) mission.
gramme was not to check the natural or social background, have made their 15. René Rivard, ‘Que le musée s’ouvre ... ou
course of events. first discoveries of cultural property. vers une nouvelle muséologie: les écomusées et
les musées ouverts’, Quebec, 1984, p. 49
On another occasion we decided to We saw that the public felt deeply in- (mimeo). The concept of the visitor and the
take children who had never been outside volved in this old-fashioned museum and public is replaced here by that of the population;
it extends to all the people to be found on the
their shanty town to the Primeiro it was our impression that this would territory within the museum’s radius: young
Reinado, thus introducing our museum always be the case. It has become one of people, workers, intellectuals, specific and
to a first group of children. The effect the basic cogs in the development of the general groups, etc. It is a fundamental
integrating factor.
produced on them by the manor house whole mechanism, receptive to the pres- 16. We received generous assistance and advice
with its painted walls was indescribable. ent and open to new ideas. For what is from the late Professor Mario Praz of Italy.
Sü0 Cnktóväo: a distnct ecomuseum 24 1

are since the arrival of the Europeans in At this constantly changing market,
Brazil and of the other peoples who where china and basketwork from the
followed them. Staged in the same year as north are to be found side by side with
the splendid exhibitions on the Por- different types of flour, seasonings and
tuguese discoveries, organized in Lisbon mixed dishes, one may see storytellers,
under the auspices of the Council of singers and groups of people who arrived
Europe, our idea, which was simple, was many years ago from the north-east,
developed in counterpoint to them. 17 We others who arrived recently, local people,
gave our own view of the question- townsfolk and country-dwellers passing
Europe in former times, Asia and the by. There is certainly a feeling of
concept of the Indies as Eldorado, of the nostalgia, for the people from the north-
silk route and of spices, Africa and the east mingle their past with their dreams
reality that is ours. What we were and and see their far-off land as the unreal
what we have become. The museum ex- Eldorado of their fancies. But new ideas
hibited a collection of sculptures, and spring up at the same time: new lands in-
simultaneously it turned another area in- spire new loves, and the market is part of
to a large spice market, which proved to the daily life of the district. Through the
be a major attraction for the Nordeste market the customs of the people of the
regulars. It may even have been the north-east are propagated in the com-
lifeblood of the whole exhibition. We munity, in an ebb and flow that is the
also made changes in the area set aside for pulse of life itself.
the museum’s permanent exhibitions, The enchantment of living and sharing
and modified the collections themselves. in this project led us to pay particular at-
The community found the exhibition a tention to the local staff supporting our
challenge, and this perhaps was the best efforts. One of the principal hazards of
reaction that we could have hoped for. community action is the constant temp-
The questions that it raised also enabled tation to overstep the limits of one’s mis-
us to tackle the topic of the São Cristóvão sion and to trespass involuntarily on the
market, analyse it and connect it with the territory of others.18 The staff of the
programme. Contrary to many people’s museum should perform a task of analysis
beliefs, the Nordeste market at São and work as catalysts while remaining in-
Cristóvãois not an isolated phenomenon, visible, so that eventually, when they
an airtight compartment within the com- have to relinquish the running of the
munity: we see it as a place for exchanges, museum, others may all the more easily
forming part of a process of integration. take their place.
The Road t o the Indes exhibition, with Today, the community is already
its market, gave us the opportunity to organizing many activities on its own in-
broaden our dialogue with the regular itiative. All the institutions still par-
visitors to the fair. As in our work on the ticipating in other activities are doing
favelas, our concern was to open up new their utmost to make them as dynamic as
areas of communication and not to possible. The idea of calling our project
modify structures. the integrated ecomuseum of São
In some visitors, who judged by their Cristóvão mirrors the concept of a vast
first impressions and looked no further, area with no specific limits and with no
we observed a tendency to see the São interference on the part of the public
Cristóvão market as an ‘ecomuseum’ in authorities.19 It is a community participa-
itself. But this is a mistake: the market tion project, with no rigid rules, in which
forms an integral part of São Cristóvão we learn that heritage, territory and com-
and its environment; it cannot be con- munity are, and must remain, three eter-
sidered in isolation. It is not merely a nal strands in a single fabric.
place for buying and selling regional pro-
duce. It would be erroneous to imagine [ Translatedfrom Portagaesel
that it is purely and simply a transposi-
tion of the north-east to the south-west.
No: although it does in fact mark an ini-
tial attempt to express a feeling of melan-
17. See article by Y.R. Isar, ‘The Portuguese
choly, a need to anchor and preserve Discoveries and Renaissance Europe’, ilheum,
nostalgia, it is also a place for exchanges, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2 , 1984, p. 92-8.
18. For the Museum of Images of the
and through exchanges we can not only Unconscious (see hkseum, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1,
exist but also possess: these are the means 1976, pp. 34-41), we paid particular attention to
whereby the markets, in conjunction this problem.
Here we would quote René Rivard, op.
with other structures, build up com- cit.,19.‘Governmental support is not always a sine
munication with the community. qua non for the creation of an ecomuseum.’
242

The Heimatmnseum: a pewertedforermzner

Alfred0 Crus-Ramirez The author o f this article looks at a long- interest in the new Heimatmuseum'.
forgotten precursor. H e shows how the Lehmann saw the movement as betoken-
Born in Mexico in 1956. Studied the history of art ideas upon which the Heimatmuseum ing 'pressure from elemental forces'.
at the University of Paris I. In 1981 started research was based, which became part of the The German curators were well aware
work in museology, concentrating on questions of of the relation between the crisis and the
maseological legacy built upon by the
cultural programming. Organized the Fite des
morts au Mexique exhibition at the Musée des En- ecomuseum movement, were dstortedto new type of museum, which has been in-
fants (MAM, Paris, 1984). ,_ serve the hyper-nationalist aims of Nazi terpreted as the almost instinctive expres-
Germany. Naturally, no comparison with sion of an attachment felt by individuals
today's ecomuseums is intended by to their native land. The reasons for the
either the author or the editors. creation of local museums and the part
they played in rebuilding a moral image
It is not surprising that enumerations of both for the individual and for the nation
the forerunners of the ecomuseum tend are thus clear.
to omit any reference to its close relation, The Heimatmusezcm, which was part
the Heimatmuseum, or homeland muse- of a vast propaganda programme, had to
um, particularly the use made of it by the operate on a scientificbasis and not for art
ideologues of Nazi Germany. for art's sake or collecting for collecting's
Recent work has shed more light on the sake; however, what was described as
role assigned to the arts by the cultural its scientific basis involved distorting
policy of the Third Reich, and the impor- science, and in particular the natural
tance which was attached to building up science, with a view to demonstrating the
collections.1 Museums had first of all superiority of the Aryan race.
to be purified- 'degenerate' art was ex- Quite aparr from this ideological basis,
cluded -and secondly an educational there was an innovative museographical
function was introduced that offered an approach, in the sense that museographic
opportunity to extol the values of the techniques were expected to take account
regime. of the users, and in a clear and accessible
Alongside the traditional museum way illustrate a subject that was treated
there emerged an unprecedented ex- 'scientifically'. This meant more than
perimental type of museum which was to merely hanging objects on walls: it in-
54 present the first challenge to the museum volved an effort to impart information.
'The condition of the peasantry before the The museum was regarded as an area for
abolition of serfdom', didactic use of as a conservation institution serving
graphics. From Der Schulungsbrief Uournal cultivated élites and to postulate a communication, in which the object
of Education], Berlin, 1938. museum linked to the life of the com- would cease to be a fetish.
munity. The local museum had, of This museographic approach involved
course, been in existence since the late the use of modern forms of presentation
nineteenth century, but the concept based on the work of the artists and
underwent radical changes which made it designers of the period whom the regime
an instrument of nationalist propaganda itself had attacked.3 It was only at the
and a genuine educational tool: level of presentation that it was possible
Two articles on this new type of to see any kind of scientific approach,
museum were published in the review because the allegedly scientific message
Mouseion by the German curators Otto of the exhibition was no more than a
Lehmann and J. Klersch in 1935 and 1. Hildegard Brenner, La poLàtique artistique
1936 respectively.2 Klersch saw the in- du NationaL Socialime [The Arts Policy of
National Socialism] pp. 137-47, Paris, Maspéro,
creasing number of local museums as a 1980.
reaction against the changes brought 2. Otto Lehmann, 'L'évolution des musées
about by the war, including the Depres- allemands et les origines des Heimatmuseen [The
Development of German Museums and the
sion, and felt they reflected a need for Origins of the Heimatmlrselrm]',Mouseion
social cohesion and reassurance: 'The (Paris), Vols. 31/32, 1935, pp. 111-17;
J. Klersch, 'Un nouveau type de musée: la maison
revival of the nation's forces and energies du pays Rhénan [A New Type of Museum: the
after the war brought about a far- Rhineland House]', Mouseion (Paris), Vols.
reaching transformation in this area; as 35/36, 1936, pp. 7-40.
,,nath rrthttc Uhhrhrit hot Etibeigml4aft ihctn Urlprunp In awnno 3. John Willett, Art andPoLitics in the
unb in befanpml4haftund in uncrthttc Bemalt, dit mon non alttrshrr the public turned away from the tradi- Weimar Period: the New Sobriety, 1917-1933,
al6 nnre6tr brwohntit htronptao cn hat unb nun l4r Rtht
tradttn mi&." - tional museums, they showed increasing London, Thames and Hudson, 1982.
The Heimatmuseum: a perverted forerunner 243

systematic reduction of science to pre- appropriate, so instead of a Rhineland


judice, and an attempt to justify the pur- museum what emerged was the Rhine-
pose of the new museums. land ‘house’.
The museuin was intended to confine 5 5
Peusrtnt L$e exhibition presented at the
The Heimatmzlseam must induce in its interest to local history and features Freilichtmuseum in 1938, as reported in
the individual a state of mind which in specificto the region. The diversity of the Der Schulzngsbrief uournal of Education],
one way or another attaches him in- population groups involved did not make Berlin, 1938.
dissolubly to his fatherland, to that this an easy task, however, and there had
which constitutes the foundation of his been population movements which
life ... So a fat-reaching change was might call the homogeneity of the
brought about in the very concept of Rhineland into question. So only the
the museum as an entity, but without period from Charlemagne to the present
abandoning a particular element of day was covered.
the German character, namely the Klersch acknowledges that local
concern that everything should be museums were traditionally run on
based on scientific principles.4 liberal principles which governed the
building up of collections. What he
A number of innovatory museological wanted to establish was a museum which
principles are also referred to in not only had links with local life but
Lehmann’s text: which always related to the present and
popular cultures are taken into conside- never lost sight of its public-the
ration as a vital element, as is the rela- people. It was not intended to be a
tion between the individual and his cemetery or an institution of learning;
environment; what the curator had in mind was a place
the basis should be an overall view of hu- where people could re-establish contact
man activities, in order better to with their history, which was to be
understand the life and evolution of presented scientifically in order to distil
human groups; and from it ‘the moral strength of the race’.
the idea that the museum should be re- Finally, at the very basis of the project,
garded as an active element in there was the educational intent, which
education. found expression in a didactic approach.
At that period in France the ethno- Models, copies, plaster casts and posters
logical museums were being planned were used to drive the point home,
with the idea of making them conser- although even today there are many
vatories and laboratories devoted to the curators who reject such expedients.
study of traditional objects. The Musée As for the genuine substance of the ex-
des Arts et des Traditions Populaires, hibition, it was a matter of presenting
which was established in 1735, set itself history by means of an interweaving of
the task of preserving collections of ob- ethnological concepts and historical facts,
jects and documents, exhibiting them,5 producing an account from which all con-
and possibly also engaging in research.6 flict had been erased and which extolled
the greatness of the state. This unusual
SimpZzj%ations of history museographic approach was based on five
key themes: ‘the historical and political
The article by Klersch deals more spe- evolution of the Rhineland, including
cifically with the establishment of a new the Rhineland nobility; the Church and
museum that was inaugurated in Co- the ecclesiastical states; the Rhineland
logne in 1936 by Goebbels: the Haus der towns and their bourgeoisie; the farming
Rheinischen Heimat (Rhineland House). population of the Rhineland; and the
Its establishment followed an exhibition Rhineland economy and its workers’.’
commemorating the one-thousandth an- The history of the Rhineland was thus
niversary of the annexation of the reduced to a history of power in a hierar-
Rhineland by the German Empire. The chical context, emphasizing the impor-
subjects it dealt with were of an historical tance of the state throughout the forma-
nature, but artistic, craft and economic tion and progress of Germany.
life were also represented. The new mu- 4. Otto Lehmann, op. cit.
seum was to be devoted to the life of the 5 . G. H. Rivière, ‘My Experience at the Musée
region, and so was organized along simi- d’Ethnologie’, Huxley Memorial Lecture,
lar lines to the local museums, except that United Kingdom, 1968; cf. Dossier MATP, Paris,
ICOM/Unesco.
to begin with there was no collection and 6. G. H. Rivière, ‘Le Musée du Trocadéro’, in
the designers could therefore apply the the review Cabierr de /u RépubLique des Lettres,
des Sciences et des Arts, Paris, Musées XIII,
new principles described by Lehmann. 1930.
The word ‘museum’ was not really 7. J, Klersch, op. cit.
244 Alfiedo Cms-Ramirez

Cultural matters were treated in a account of history which revealed some into a research institution and has led to
purely political fashion: ecclesiastical inconsistencies of nationalist ideology. the establishment of small museums
organization was always described in The people and the industrial revolution organized on the ‘regionlpopulationl
terms of Church and state, and religious are dealt with without any reference to heritage‘ principle which inevitably raise
art, for example, was considered merely the working masses. The conservative the problem of territorial identities.
as demonstrating progress. In the Catho- Klersch explains this omission by saying But-and this question was equally ap-
1icIProtestant conflict, the progress that the subject will be dealt with later plicable to the Rhineland House-what
achieved due to the establishment of Pro- on, but that makes clear the problem is the real identity of regions which have
testant capitalism was commended. posed by the working masses as an entity been radically transformed by industrial
Agricultural life was reduced to the which is capable of challenging the development both in their morphology
history of land ownership from the Mid- powers that be and calling ‘the attach- and in their population density? Is
dle Ages to the creation of a Nazi Ministry ment to the land’ into question by virtue allowance being made for the cultural
of Agriculture. In fact, the past was seen of its social dynamics (politicization, pluralism characteristic of contemporary
in terms of the present, respect for the deracination). This exclusion makes it societies?
established order was applauded, and an clear that the worker was considered only Today, the increasing momentum of -
idyllic picture of the future painted: as part of the community at large and that ‘museification’ demonstrates the need
the existence of a new and proletarian felt by some individuals to identify
The Heinzatmzlsezlm must not be a culture was not admitted.9 In oficial themselves with a particular history or
kingdom of the dead, a cemetery. It is Nazi art the image of the worker very with lives like those they have themselves
made for the living; it is to the living often appears in the archaic form of a led. This is why these ecomuseums pre-
that it must belong, and they must feel blacksmith, whereas the soldier and the sent an idyllic image of the past in which
at ease there. The living are continual- peasant are glorified in their own right.10 the population is able to contemplate its
ly on the move, from yesterday to The Rhineland House as an educa- own reflection. The ecomuseum, which
tomorrow, and the museum must help tional experiment had a potential which ought to have been linked to life, is prov-
them to see the present in the mirror of was not to be fully realized until much ing indicative of a malaise, and that is
the past, and the past in the mirror of later, in today’smuseums; but it also uses how Clair sees it as we approach the end
the present. They will thus experience history as a cover for the desire to impose of the century: ‘If the museum wins, it 1

the intimate cohesion of past and pres- uniformity and gain control: turning its will be in the same way as the desert
ent which begets the future. The wealth o€ visual media to good account, grows: it advances where life ebbs and,
crucial task of the Heimatmzlseam is to the museum became the custodian. of like a benign pirate, plunders the
serve the people and the present, and truth and imposed a particular view of wreckage it has left behind’.”
if it fails in that task it becomes no history even more convincingly than the The French ecomuseum concept has
more than a lifeless collection of school. very largely been adopted by the rest of
objects.8 Of course the educational aims of the the world and, where arrangements are
Third Reich now seem both dangerous supervised by the state, has sometimes
and pernicious,especiallyas educationwas taken on strong political overtones; in
extended to cover all aspects of everyday any event ecomuseology has already
Klersch also envisaged the formation of life and exerted a compelling influence erected bastions of territorial identity
collections and, with his concern for over the world of children and young which any political authority could use to
education, distinguished between collec- people. In this context, the museum rein- propagate its own ideals, playing upon
tions for exhibition and collections for forced nationalist dogma and provided a sentiments which are both volatile and
study. The latter should be accessible to series of striking images which assisted in ambiguous.
the public and at the same time should the pupils’ indoctrination. Apart from
provide an opportunity for more detailed the slanted principles on which the [ Trandatedfrom French]
investigation of a topic which had merely Heimatmzlseums were based, their
been touched on in the permanent ex- educative function and their role as
hibition halls. This use of the reserves precursors in the field of communication
should be the responsibility o€ teachers. also provide food for thought, for the
Klersch attached great importance to principles enunciated by Lehmann and
school classes spending days in the Klersch reflect an awareness of the role
museum as part of their school curricula, which museums can play in the com-
and not just as visitors. The school visit munity as channels of communication
was seen as being an integral part of the and partners in education. Even in to-
museum’s educational function. The day’s mass culture, museums are out of
systematic use of graphic media and clear step with their social context as a result of
visual language should create an the lack of provision for joint action by 8. J. Klersch, op. cit.
agreeable impression on the visitor and the various bodies involved in education 9. Hildegard Brenner, op. cit.
10. On the symbolism of the blacksmith, see ’
spur him or her on to make further in the broadest sense of the word.
the catalogue for La repréreiztation du travail
discoveries. When ecomuseums were established [The Representation of Work] exhibition
In this functionalist museology the in France in the 1970s it was hoped that organized by CRACAP/Le Creusot Ecomuseum,
modernity of the solutions that were the split between the various institutions September 1977.
11. Jean Clair, Consia’érafionr SUT l’étatdes
found is apparent, as are also the con- involved in cultural activity would disap- beaux-art1 [Reflections on the State of the Fine
tradictions inherent in a prefabricated pear, but the ecomuseum is developing Arts], Paris, pp. 22-3, Gallimard, 1983.
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