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ICOM execs stress importance of preserving traditions

By 이다영

Published : Feb. 9, 2011 - 18:05

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Preserving intangible heritage is one of the most important ways of safeguarding the common culture of humanity, International Council of Museums executives said in Seoul on Tuesday.

Hans-Martin Hinz, the president of the council, and Amareswar Galla, the vice president, visited Korea to attend the sixth annual editorial meeting for Korea’s international academic journal, International Journal of Intangible Heritage.

The journal has been published by the National Folk Museum of Korea since 2006 with the support of the ICOM.

“Intangible heritage gives a better understanding of the past that makes us manage the future for the better way,” said Hinz at a press meeting held at the national museum.

“Visitors (to intangible heritage-featured exhibitions) should feel their culture and history, not just the discussion of it.”
Hans-Martin Hinz (right), the president of ICOM (International Council of Museums) and Amareswar Galla, the founding Chairperson of the ICOM Cross Cultural Task Force, speak at a press meeting at the National Folk Museum of Korea on Tuesday. (National Folk Museum of Korea) Hans-Martin Hinz (right), the president of ICOM (International Council of Museums) and Amareswar Galla, the founding Chairperson of the ICOM Cross Cultural Task Force, speak at a press meeting at the National Folk Museum of Korea on Tuesday. (National Folk Museum of Korea)

International Journal of Intangible Heritage is the first international academic journal that selects and publishes papers on intangible heritage only. Scholars from any country can submit their work. Ever since it was founded in 2006, five English volumes and four Korean volumes have been published.

Last year, it was officially registered with Arts and Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), an international citation index with more than 1,300 arts and humanities journals.

The ICOM first came across the idea of supporting an academic journal on intangible heritage in 2004, during its General Conference and Assembly held in Seoul.

The theme of the conference, chosen by Korea, was intangible heritage.

“Long before 2003, the ICOM had been raising concerns over cultural diversity and safeguarding intangible heritage around the world,” Galla said.

“The 2004 general conference was the first confrontation against the issues,” he said, “about how to continue preserving the national treasures of many different countries.”
International Journal of Intangible Heritage produced by the National Folk Museum of Korea with the support of ICOM. International Journal of Intangible Heritage produced by the National Folk Museum of Korea with the support of ICOM.

Hinz stressed that while government support is crucial, it is also important for non-government organizations, such as the ICOM, to be involved.

“Governments can get political over the issue,” he said.

“We are looking into the most democratic way of safeguarding the heritage,” Galla later added.

Galla, who is also the founding director of the UNESCO Pacific Asia Observatory for Cultural Diversity in Human Development, said the Korean government has been extremely supportive of preserving its own culture as well as those of other countries.

“For many countries, the preservation issue has to do with the right budget,” he said. “So many national treasures in certain countries are not feasible to be preserved.”

Hinz said he is pleased with what International Journal of Intangible Heritage has become since its launch in 2006. “The articles are very impressive and the standard is quite high,” he said.

One of the visions of the ICOM, Hinz said, is to strengthen the code of ethics and standard between museums around the world.

“There have been a lot of lootings and illegal activities in museums of Egypt and other countries,” he said. “ICOM has a voice for these circumstances. We will try to protect the museums by raising awareness among the general public.”

This year, authors from 16 countries have submitted a total of 27 papers for consideration. About nine papers will be selected and published in May.

International Journal of Intangible Heritage is distributed to various libraries, museums, and research institutions of intangible heritage overseas.

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)