ICOM offers assistance to Egyptian museums and museum professionals
Recently, ICOM has carried out two successful missions in Egypt. From 4-9 September, 2014, ICOM Director General Prof. Dr Anne-Catherine Robert-Hauglustaine and ICOM Executive Council member Prof. Dr Regine Schulz, represented ICOM in a joint mission of UNESCO, ICOM, ICCROM and ARC-WH in Cairo. Upon the invitation of Ambassador H. E. Dr Mohamed Sameh Amr, Permanent Delegate of Egypt to UNESCO and Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO, the UNESCO-led delegation was received by the Minister of Antiquities of Egypt H.E. Dr Mamdouh Mohamed Gad el-Damaty. During the delegation’s visits to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) and the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), Prof. Dr Robert-Hauglustaine met with the directors of the two museums and their respective teams. On behalf of ICOM, she expressed support for the actions carried out by museum colleagues at the NMEC and the GEM and proposed reinforcing ICOM’s collaboration with the Egyptian museum community. Both museums are invited to attend the joint conference of CECA (ICOM International Committee on Education and Cultural Action) and UMAC (ICOM International Committee for University Museums and Collections) in Alexandra, Egypt in mid-October, to participate in training programmes with ICTOP (ICOM International Committee for the Training of Personnel), and particularly, to apply for travel grants to participate in the “Learning in Museums” workshop offered by the ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies in Beijing, China.
Prof. Dr Robert-Hauglustaine also confirmed ICOM’s participation in the organisation of an international symposium in 2015 on the subject of human remains in the GEM. Immediately after this mission, a delegation of ICOM’s National Committee of Egypt (ICOM Egypt) including Ossama Abdel Meguid, ICOM Executive Council member, was received by the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Mamdouh el-Damaty, who offered the NMEC premises as the future headquarters for the committee, among other possibilities for collaboration.The delegation also visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in the Egyptian capital as a follow-up of the ICOM/UNESCO/Blue Shield emergency mission in the beginning of the year. Prof. Dr Robert-Hauglustaine welcomed the progress made on the restoration of damaged objects. “The collaboration with our colleagues is an absolute success and the work that has been done is tremendous,” she said.
Earlier this month from 4-8 August, 2014, Ms France Desmarais, ICOM’s Director of Programmes and Partnership travelled to Cairo to take part in an international museum mission in favour of the MIA, together with conservation experts from the Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA. The mission assessed the specific conservation needs of the MIA as part of ICOM’s commitment to support the restoration of the MIA’s collection.
Since the 2011 uprising, ICOM has been following the events in Egypt closely. In 2011, ICOM published an Emergency Red List of Egyptian Cultural Objects at Risk as a tool to disseminate information and raise public awareness on the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects. ICOM’s Disaster Relief Task Force (DRTF) also reported on the Institut d’Egypte, which was burned down in December 2011. ICOM will continue to “stand alongside Egypt in the challenges faced by cultural heritage in these times of transition [in the country] and where the protection of museum collections is fundamental,” said ICOM President Prof. Dr Hans-Martin Hinz, in a letter to Minister el-Damaty. Among other collaboration perspectives, ICOM’s upcoming triennial General Conference to be held in Milan, Italy from 3-9 July, 2016 will be an excellent opportunity for Egyptian museums to showcase their interpretation of Museums and Cultural Landscapes.