Last May, ICOM Malta organised a workshop entitled 'Collections at risk: Safeguarding our cultural heritage' at the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. This was a collaborative programme between ICOM Malta and the International Committee on Museum Security (ICMS) with the support from ICOM International Committee of Museums, Heritage Malta and Middlesea Insurance.
Key speakers included various professionals and specialists from the ICMS committee, many of whom are leading experts within some of the most prominent museums in Europe such as the Hermitage and the Rijksmuseum. Other key experts from Malta included conservators, heritage architects, collection managers and legal experts, who discussed risk management within Europe and Malta.
The workshop was highly successful and attendees gave positive feedback. Most of these were people working within the cultural heritage field, private museums and home owners. The workshop was also particularly beneficial for the continuous professional development of the staff of Heritage Malta and other private museums.
As a result of the success of this workshop, ICOM Malta is currently planning its next workshop for May 2010, the focus being on modern and contemporary art and architecture.
In the light of the saddening news of the loss of Dennis Vella, who held the post of curator of modern and contemporary art collection within the National Museum of Fine Arts, as well as following the constant wave of interest in the subject by many public and private individuals, the workshop will be dedicated to Mr Vella's memory. The title proposed is 'Modern and contemporary art and architecture: Live museum or accessible storage?
It has been pointed out in the past that almost two centuries of Maltese art, generally referred to as the 'modern' period, have been kept hidden away in reserve and private collections with only some minor pieces exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
This museum is doing its utmost to preserve the collection it houses but cannot, in any way, afford to exhibit all the works. So it does not really represent the development of the expression of our national artistic output over the centuries to the present day.
With this workshop ICOM intends to instigate further thought on the purpose and need of opening such a museum and whether this should be a 'live' museum or simply an accessible storage facility. However, ICOM-Malta does not want to give importance to just art, but also to architecture, which always seems to be put aside when discussing museums. So why not consider architecture within the modern and contemporary museum?
The concept of a 'live' museum as described by ICOM-International is 'a non-profit-making permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, the tangible and intangible evidence of people and their environment'.
ICOM-Malta intends to invite key local and foreign speakers on the topic. For more information about the workshop, e-mail Samantha Fabry at heritage.