Séverine Cachat (Maisons des Cultures du Monde - Centre français du patrimoine culturel immatériel) and Emmanuel Gérard (Cité internationale de la tapisserie) welcomed the participants to the International conference on 'Intangible Cultural Heritage, Museums and Innovation'. The day was moderated by Armande Cernuschi (Fourvière Fondation & France PCI).
Jorijn Neyrinck (Workshop intangible heritage Flanders) continued with a brief introduction on the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project (IMP), to which this International conference connects. IMP wants to explore the variety of approaches, interactions and practices on intangible cultural heritage in museums and investigate how museums can play a role in the safeguarding of these living heritage practices, by working together with its practitioners in this process (read more about IMP in the ‘about-section’). IMP does this by inviting people from throughout its five partner countries (The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France and Switzerland), to share their experiences, successes as well as the obstacles they have encountered.
Isabelle Chave presented the first results of a national survey, conducted in the second half of 2018 by the French Ministry of Culture. Elaborated with the support of the 'Fédération des écomusées et des musées de société', the Service of the Museums of France and the Department Head of Politics of the Public (Ministry of Culture), it provides an overview of the effective recognition of intangible cultural heritage in more than a hundred museums, ethnological museums and so called 'écomusées' in France. Up until this study the Ministry did not possess a full picture of how museums across France apprehended intangible cultural heritage, stated Isabelle Chave. She went on to explain the main objectives of the survey:
The preliminary findings allowed for a number of assertions to be made which demonstrate that intangible cultural heritage is a real challenge to museums:
In the second stage of the survey, ten in situ interviews were conducted in order to gather more in depth information about some of the projects. These interviews took place in structures that were diverse in size, status and institutional linkage. They highlighted diverse inspiring projects: mediation programs, workshops, digital technologies, participatory projects, immersive devices…
The results of the study will be disseminated through different mediums:
Filomena Sousa (Mémoria Imaterial) started her presentation with providing some basic information on the concepts behind the paradigm of intangible cultural heritage, as promoted in the UNESCO 2003 Convention (the notion of 'domains on intangible cultural heritage', its participatory nature including communities, groups and individuals in safeguarding efforts, its transmission between generations, its future-orientedness, et cetera.) She elaborated on the relevance and imporantance of safeguarding intangible heritage because
She continued hightlighting the positive aspects of the practice of museums in relation to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, such as:
And indicated some points of improvement as well:
Sousa ended her presentation with the following critical statement, in relation to the theme of innovation that was under scrutiny during this international conference:
Innovation is important but
will not be relevant
if the practice and the meaning of the tradition is lost in the original context,
for their communities.
Sousa, F., Intangible Cultural Heritage. Memoriamedia eMuseum. Methods, techniques and practices (2016 Alenquer).
The conference continued with three presentations by practitioners of intangible heritage in France. Afterwards, these practitioners were questioned on their views on working with museums in the context of safeguarding their heritage.
Paul Terral See PPT - Watch video
This session was moderated by Eric Alendroit (Service régional de l'inventaire, Région Réunion).
During the next part of the conference, a selection of museums from Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland and France were asked to present their work on intangible cultural heritage, linked to the topic of innovation:
This session was moderated by Armande Cernuschi (Fourvière Fondation & France PCI)
This session was moderated by Pierre Sanner (France PCI)
Reflections on the day
After concisely summing up the central points of Isabelle Chave’s and Filomena Sousa’s speeches, Cécile Duvelle (former Chief of the Section of Intangible Heritage Section of UNESCO and Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage) discussed the three key terms of the day: intangible cultural heritage, museums and innovation.
Cécile Duvelle stressed some of the difficulties and major risks that may occur during the integration of intangible cultural heritage in museums:
In order to avoid those risks, it is paramount to work hand in hand with local communities to plan out axes of development. She draws an analogy between intangible cultural heritage in museums and Magritte’s painting ‘The Treachery of images’: to host tangible historical artefacts whilst at the same time not betraying intangible cultural heritage's principles is indeed a real challenge for museums. Cécile Duvelle pointed out that all the presentations of the day offer solutions to these challenges:
Cécile Duvelle highlighted that today’s presentations have shown the impossibility of integrating intangible cultural heritage in museums whilst keeping up traditional structures in place. Museums have to become co-construction spaces where tradition can adapt to our contemporary way of life and to a modern economy. Museums are also spaces dedicated to cultural democracy where know-how and knowledge meet. Intangible cultural heritage is a driving force to incite museums to step out of their comfort zone.
The Théâtre des Origines has been performing in the streets of Occitanie, Southern France, for fifteen years in close contact with local communities, revitalizing and recreating seasonal rituals. From Carnival to 'Martror', the Festival of the Dead. The Théâtre des Origines invites us to re-think the relationship between Man, Nature and the City.
Rooted in popular theatre and carnival traditions, the creations of the Théâtre des Origines aim at raising awareness on our intangible cultural heritage through itinerant, inter-disciplinary and interactive performances. The Théâtre des Origines have especially designed a concept of 'burlesque conference' about the specificities of intangible cultural heritage, dedicated to a wide audience. They experience an evolutive project that adapts to different performing contexts, inspired by regional cultures and picking up exemples in intangible cultural heritage of the local communities. After Occitanie, the Théâtre des Origines has been invited in residency at the French Center for intangible cultural heritage located in Western France, and developed a new version of their 'conference' integrating living heritage in Britany.
In the frame of the Intangible Cultural Heritage & Museum Project, the Théâtre des Origines has been hosted during one week at the Cité internationale de la Tapisserie in Aubusson, a small town located in Central France (Limousin) and famous for its art of tapestry, inscribed in 2009 on the 2003 UNESCO lists. To get to know local context and intangible cultural heritage, they met and interviewed weavers, artists and inhabitants of Aubusson, then performing at the Cité during the 4th International Conference of IMP.