UNESCO Second High-Level Forum on Museums to look at post-pandemic challenges


The second UNESCO High-Level Forum on Museums entitled “Facing post-pandemic challenges through innovation and inclusiveness” will take place online on 23 and 24 September.

The event will bring together more than 25 museum directors and other high-level cultural leaders from around the world. Representing the diversity of the world’s museums, they will discuss the crucial role of museums for societies, their vulnerability to crisis and conflicts, and the consequences of, and lessons learned from, the current pandemic for the future.

UNESCO has always supported museums, which are essential pillars of our societies and fundamental places for sharing and dialogue, preserving the heritage of humanity
Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO

“UNESCO has always supported museums, which are essential pillars of our societies and fundamental places for sharing and dialogue, preserving the heritage of humanity,” said Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO. “The Forum pursues this tradition because tomorrow, more than ever, museums will play a key role in contributing to dialogue between cultures, to education and to living together.”

The world’s museums, estimated to number approximately 104,000 in 2021, have been extensively affected by the pandemic, which has deepened inequalities, impacting museums in less developed regions and conflict or crisis zones with greater severity.

The 2020-2021 period has also seen an acceleration in the transformation of museums. The urgent need to adapt to new technologies has brought to the fore major challenges, such as the digital divide, and the pressing need to improve inventories and storage area management, both crucial to the fight against illicit trafficking. The Forum will be an opportunity to discuss the operating conditions necessary to modernize museums on an international scale.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone R. will open the discussions with the Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism of China, Qun Li, the Director General of the Zhizheng Art Museum, Fuqing Wu, the Director General of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), Webber Ndoro, the President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Alberto Garlandini, and the Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union, Amira El Fadil. The keynote speeches will be followed by a free reflection by human rights and Intercultural Dialogue expert Doudou Diène and political scientist Françoise Vergès on the spirit of the Forum and its broader issues.

The Forum will include five high-level panels, with participants such as Silvie Memel-Kassi, Director, Musée des Civilisations of Côte d'Ivoire, Mikhail Piotrovskiy, General Director, The State Hermitage Museum, Al-Tayeb Abbas, Assistant Minister for Antiquities Affairs of Egypt and Barbara Jatta, Director of Vatican Museums, among many others.

The first panel will focus on recent developments in museums in the face of the pandemic, the second on their place in our society, and the third will discuss the transformations introduced by new technologies and associated challenges, including the digital divide. The fourth panel will examine specific issues for private und community museums, and the fifth will focus on museums in emergency and conflict situations.

This debate follows UNESCO’s 2016 High Level Forum on Museums, and is part of the Organization’s ongoing efforts to support museums and their professionals in an unprecedented situation. It is also guided by UNESCO’s commitment to the 2015 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, their Diversity and their Role in Society and the findings of two reports on the World’s Museums in the Face of the Pandemic published in May 2020 and 2021. The Forum is sponsored by the private institution Zhizheng Art Museum (Shenzhen, China).


For the programme and further information on the Forum visit : here

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