International Conference: Museums, Diversity and Intangible Cultural Heritage

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Today’s diverse society forces us to redefine our perception of ‘a museum’. If they fail to reinvent themselves they risk becoming redundant. Collaborating with the bearers and practitioners of living heritage practices while working on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, might offer museums a unique opportunity to reassure their relevance.


According to the Unesco 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, intangible heritage includes practices, representations, expressions, knowledge or skills which people pass on from one generation to another. Intangible heritage is found in oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, or the knowledge and skills to produce (traditional) crafts. These living practices are everywhere in today’s society and people see them as a part of their cultural heritage. They are a source of cultural diversity and give people a sense of identity and continuity.

But many museums who are experts in acquiring, conserving, researching and exhibiting material artefacts are not yet familiar with intangible heritage nor working with its practitioners. They are the main protectors of their heritage and they safeguard it by passing it on to future generations.

Can museums contribute to this process of safeguarding by collecting or presenting intangible heritage for example? And how should they go about it? Can museums act as platforms for heritage communities or as laboratories for experimenting with intangible heritage and participatory methods such as co-creation?

This conference will provide you with new insights into what it means for museums and practitioners of intangible cultural heritage to work together in today’s superdiverse society and will provide museums with new ideas on how to approach this diversity by working on intangible cultural heritage alongside its practitioners.




07 November 2017 from 08:30 to 16:15
Check out the program


Schielandshuis (The Netherlands)


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8h45 Registration 

by Leo Adriaanse | Head at the Dutch Centre for Intangible Heritage (NL)


The Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project (IMP): what is it about?
by Jorijn Neyrinck | Coordinator at tapis plein vzw (BE)


Keynote | Some thoughts on how the 'museums and intangible heritage discourse' has evolved over the last decade
by Marilena Alivizatou | University College London (UK)


Keynote | Superdiversity as a new reality and as a challenge
by Prof. dr. Dirk Geldof | University of Antwerp (BE)

11h Coffee break 

How can museums approach diversity in society through intangible cultural heritage? Five museums from throughout Europe present their inspiring ideas and examples

  • Rotterdam Museum (NL) | The Active Collection of the city - Nicole van Dijk
  • Stadtmuseum Aarau (CH) | 10 arrivals – refugees introduce themselves - Flavia Muscionico
  • MAS | Museum aan de Stroom (BE) | The Corner Shop - Sofie De Ruysser
  • Casa Lussu-Sistema museale Armungia (IT) | Un caffè ad Armungia - Tommaso Lussu
  • Chercheurs d’art / Amazonian Museum Network (French Guyana) - David Redon

Session chaired by dr. Hendrik Henrichs | University of Utrecht (NL)

13h Lunch break 

The practitioner’s voice. Interview with four practitioners of intangible cultural heritage on collaborating with museums. 

Panel of ICH-practitioners from the Netherlands: Fatima Oulad Thami (art of Henna), Wijnand Stomp (Anansi storytelling), Rien Sprenger (Sint Maartensberaad) and Dyonna Benett (Rotterdam’s Zomercarnaval).

Conversation chaired by Sophie Elpers | Dutch Centre for Intangible Heritage (NL)

15h Coffee break 

Working groups | Museums approaching diversity in society through intangible cultural heritage: mapping assets, challenges and opportunities


Concluding observations Museums, Diversity and Intangible Cultural Heritage
by Marc Jacobs | Director at FARO. Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage (BE)

Estimated end: 17h15

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