[wwpoenglish] Re: International Museum Day

  • From: María Cristina Azcona <mcrisazcona@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "rene.wadlow" <rene.wadlow@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 20:09:09 -0300

Hi Rene

Many thanks for sending us this awesome article

Feel free to submit this kind of emails with copy to the WWPO forum to

regards MARIA

*Lic.María Cristina Azcona*

*Orientadora Familiar*

WWPO Founder President <http://www.wwpo%2Corg/>

2015-05-18 11:02 GMT-03:00 rene.wadlow <rene.wadlow@xxxxxxxxx>:

<http://foreignpolicynews.org/category/europe-2/> 18 May: International
Museum Day. The advancement of learning and culture
[image: 18 May: International Museum Day. The advancement of learning
and culture]

A line of people waiting to enter the State Pushkin Fine Arts Museum on
the International Museum Day celebrated on May 18. (Photo: Courtesy of
18 May: International Museum Day. The advancement of learning and culture


*By Rene Wadlow*

18 May has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day of Museums
to highlight the role that museums play in preserving beauty, culture, and
history. Museums come in all sizes and are often related to institutions of
learning and libraries. Increasingly, churches and centers of worship have
taken on the character of museums as people visit them for their artistic
value even if they do not share the faith of those who built them.

Museums are important agents of intellectual growth and of cultural
understanding. They are part of the common heritage of humanity, and thus
require special protection in times of armed conflict. Many were horrified
at the looting of the National Museum of Baghdad when some of the oldest
objects of civilization were stolen or destroyed. Fortunately many items
were later found and restored, but the American forces had provided
inadequate protection at a time when wide-spread looting was predicted and,
in fact, was going on. More recently, we have seen the deliberate
destruction of cultural heritage in the museum of Mosul by ISIS factions.
Today, there is deep concern for Palmyra as ISIS and government troops
battle near Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Conserving a cultural heritage is always difficult. Weak institutional
capabilities, lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many
culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the
value of cultural heritage conservation. On the other hand, the dynamism
of local initiatives and community solidarity systems are impressive
assets. These forces should be enlisted, enlarged, and empowered to
preserve and protect a heritage. Involving people in cultural heritage
conservation both increases the efficiency of cultural heritage
conservation and raises awareness of the importance of the past for people
facing rapid changes in their environment and values.

Knowledge and understanding of a people’s past can help current
inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of
their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches
their lives and enables them to manage contemporary problems more
successfully. It is important to retain the best of traditional
self-reliance and skills of rural life and economics as people adapt to

Traditional systems of knowledge are rarely written down; they are
implicit, continued by practice and example, rarely codified or even
articulated by the spoken word. They continue to exist as long as they are
useful, as long as they are not supplanted by new techniques. They are far
too easily lost. Thus is is the objects that come into being through these
systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important.

Thus, museums must become key institutions at the local level . They
should function as a place of learning. The objects that bear witness to
systems of knowledge must be accessible to those who would visit and learn
from them. Culture must be seen in its entirety: how women and men live in
the world, how they use it, preserve and enjoy it for a better life.
Museums allow objects to speak, to bear witness to past experiences and
future possibilities and thus to reflect on how things are and how things
might otherwise be.

Early efforts for the protection of educational and cultural institutions
were undertaken by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) a Russian and world
citizen. Nicholas Roerich had lived through the First World War and the
Russian Revolution and saw how armed conflicts can destroy works of art and
cultural and educational institutions. For Roerich, such institutions were
irreplaceable and their destructions was a permanent loss for all
humanity. Thus, he worked for the protection of works of art and
institutions of culture in times of armed conflict. Thus he envisaged a
universally-accepted symbol that could be placed on educational
institutions in the way that a red cross had become a widely-recognized
symbol to protect medical institutions and medical workers. Roerich
proposed a “Banner of Peace” − three red circles representing the past,
present and future − that could be placed upon institutions and sites of
culture and education to protect them in times of conflict.

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s for the
establishment of this Banner of Peace. Henry A. Wallace, then the US
Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President was an admirer of Roerich
and helped to have an official treaty introducing the Banner of Peace − the
Roerich Peace Pact − signed at the White House on 15 April 1935 by 21
States in a Pan-American Union ceremony. At the signing, Henry Wallace on
behalf of the USA said “At no time has such an ideal been more needed. It
is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally
around such a symbol of international cultural unity. It is time that we
appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across
all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our
particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach
of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in
additions the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence
to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship
all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith.”

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of his Pact “The world is
striving toward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that
this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era. We deplore the
loss of libraries of Lou vain and Overdo and the irreplaceable beauty of
the Cathedral of Rheims. We remember the beautiful treasures of private
collections which were lost during world calamities. But we do not want to
inscribe on these deeps any worlds of hatred. Let us simply say :
Destroyed by human ignorance − rebuilt by human hope.”

After the Second World War, UNESCO has continued the effort, and there
have been additional conventions on the protection of cultural and
educational bodies in times of armed conflicts. The most important is the
1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event
of Armed Conflict.

Museums help to build new bridges between nations, ethnic groups and
communities through values such as beauty and harmony, that may serve a
common references. Museums also build bridges between generations, between
the past, the present and the future.

Therefore, on this International Museum Day, let us consider together how
we may advance the impact of beauty upon the world.

JPEG image

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